An aged and crumbling wooden osprey nest on the bayside property border of Pink Shell Beach Resort and Marina and Bowditch Point Park has been replaced by an aluminum platform nest with a unique feature.
The cooperative project between Lee County Parks & Recreation and Pink Shell overlooks Matanzas Pass. The process involved the tearing down of the original nest, placement of the new one, then the attachment of the 2MP high definition IP camera with built-in IR illumination.
"We think it's a great feature that we are able to provide to our website visitors in cooperation with Lee County," said Pink Shell Marketing Director Ellis Etter. "We expect a lot of users, especially with the (National) Audubon Society involved."
Fort Myers-based Fiber Solutions set up the ospreycam facing north. It will have a northern exposure with a protective cover to protect the camera and lens that is angled at 45 degrees. According to a Fiber Solutions rep, the imaging sensor will be able to adapt to varying lighting conditions with a 5ghz wireless bridge allowing for a transfer rate of up to 54mbps.
The pre-fabricated nest -a three-foot platform of expanded metal and aluminum with stainless steel leg bolts for sustained longevity, was manufactured by an employee of the Lee County Facilities Department after Betsie Hiatt, the environmental manager for the Lee County Department of Public Works, designed it.
The "ospreycam" is the brainchild of Pink Shell's executive committee. Pink Shell absorbed the cost of $4,500, while Lee County took care of the nest construction and installation.
The proactive partnership is a positive one for environmentalists. "I believe it is up to us to be good stewards," said Lee Parks Senior Supervisor James (Skip) Franklin, after Turtle Time founder Eve Haverfield inquired about replacing the decaying osprey nest.
Some of the old osprey nest debris has been added to give the fish-eating birds of prey a start on their nest building. Website viewers will be able to view this osprey activity and, once the comforts of home are established, the egg incubation process as well as hatching and fledging operations.
According to Jim Griffith, president of the International Osprey Foundation and Sanibel Audubon Society, ospreys mate for life in the general vicinity that they were raised yet many migrate to South America during the summer months. He explained the general cycle.
"Ospreys get serious about courting and mating as early as December and continue into January," he said. "Typically, they start laying eggs in late December on up into February. It's about a 32- to 34-day incubation period, then you have another seven to eight weeks of fledging until they venture out and learn to fly."
Griffith said most fledglings will leave the nest by the end of May, so seasonal tourists will have the opportunity to enjoy the processes. Ocean's Reach Condominiums Resort on Sanibel also has a ospreycam, and volunteers on Sanibel begin monitoring nests on that island during the first part of January.