It was another successful season at RVAOspreyCam.com, one that is now winding down as ospreys all over the region begin their annual migration to South America. You might still see a few here or there, but in a month to six weeks most will be on their way south.
For the second year in a row, Maggie and Walker, the pair we feature at the osprey cam (ospreys return to the same nest location every year), produced three eggs, two of which hatched and became viable chicks. Like clockwork, the parents returned to the nest in late February (early in the season compared to most local ospreys); the eggs were laid in mid-March; and the two chicks hatched in late April. While it was a wet spring and early summer, fishing was good in the James River, and Maggie and Walker had no trouble feeding this year’s offspring. The chicks grew steadily and fledged in June.
Every year presents its own technical challenges for an endeavor like this, and 2018 was no exception. We added a microphone to our setup this year, but on rainy days the mic cable would pickup a local radio frequency so viewers would be listening to a radio station if they turned the volume on! We’ve remedied that we hope with a different microphone for next year.
Another issue we ran into was a Virginia creeper vine that reached mammoth proportions and covered about a third of our solar panels for about the last quarter of the viewing season. That meant the panels couldn’t collect as much solar energy as normal and the batteries that powered the camera would die every evening. The next morning we’d have to wait as the sun climbed high enough to re-fill the batteries and turn the camera back on. Good old, Mother Nature!
We sent a crew out to the cam site a couple of weeks ago, and pulled out the vines (after getting attacked by a swarm of wasps also nesting up there!). We hope that problem is fixed for next year.
All in all, it was another rewarding year showcasing these beautiful raptors which choose to make their summer home in downtown Richmond. But they’re not the only raptors for whom that’s true. Starting this fall you’ll be able to watch the Cooper’s Island bald eagle nest just upstream of the Nickel Bridge. That’s right, we’re adding an eagle cam!
Bald eagles return to their nests sooner than ospreys — like before Thanksgiving. So we’ll have the eagle cam up and running by next month. There are only two bald eagle nests in city limits, so this promises to be exciting. You’ll be able to find all of our cams (including our Newport News peregrine falcon cam) at WildStreaming.com.
We will certainly have more on the eagle cam project during and after the install. Stay tuned!