There are three Osprey nests within three miles of our place … one is a pile of branches, marine rope and police tape, layered on a new platform over Commodore Park. The platform was built after Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) removed an ages-old nest on an even older communications tower on a railroad bridge.
My photographer friend Linda followed the Ballard Locks Ospreys before I relocated to this urban island, so I asked her first when I saw the platform. It seemed so public — quite a bit lower than their chosen spot on the defunct tower. The new platform rises above a park where people picnic, walk their dogs, launch their kayaks, and otherwise exploit one of the few niches of public shoreline on Seattle’s Puget Sound. Her counsel was wise, measured and hopeful, as in — they’ve done well so far, let’s see how they fare now.
The platform overlooks the passage of yachts, skiffs, gravel barges, salmon migrations and smolt flumes at the confluence of salt and fresh — that brackish transition known as the Ballard Locks. The installation was a joint effort by BNSF, Seattle City Light, Seattle Parks and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
They arrived during the week of April 12 — within a few days of all other Seattle Osprey couplings. The Burien Ospreys, the Normandy Park Ospreys, the West Seattle Ospreys, the Terminal 91 Ospreys, the Duwamish Ospreys, the Ballard Ospreys … all following the impulses that only Ospreys ascertain, riding north on currents and thermals and cosmic messages that end in a communal understanding.
I first photographed the Ballard couple on April 13 … intent on making their new house a home.
That was two days before I photographed the Burien Osprey shuttling twigs to their seasonal digs in a cell phone tower.
I’ve monitored the various nests weekly, reporting my observations to Osprey Watch, looking for signs of eggs, nestlings and finally, fledglings in the cradle of twigs that constitute an Osprey nest.
Last week, all of our local fledglings tested their wings … starting with the earliest incubated eggs to the last-born babies who were just days behind their siblings in making the leap. They’re now hopping from nest to lamp post to railroad bridge to willow overhang, circling their nests, drawn to the places of their birth — the security of twigs and marine rope and police tape — all the while yearning for the universe beyond.
I photographed the Ballard Locks Osprey family recently, a week or less after the two youngsters first flew from the nest. Mum and Dad are still close by, but the two fledglings are spinning turns around their platform, exploring the world across the channel, practicing their landings, and then finding solace in the evening sun and the platform they’ve called home since they hatched from those precious shells.
Osprey photos from the Ballard Locks in Seattle
Great sequence of shots Ingrid.
Thanks, Glenn. Our “kids” will be leaving us soon. It’s hard to believe that we’ve gone from their April arrival to their near-September departure … already.
Gorgeous shots of the Osprey Ingrid! I was lucky enough to catch first flights from a family of Osprey that nest here in Anderson River Park, atop a bank of lights used for a soccer field! Talk about busy and noisy around there. It’s great to see that they have had a successful nesting. I’m sure that nesting platform will grow in size in the years to come. I love your in flight shots of the fledglings!
Hello, Larry~! So good of you to drop by. I was happy to see your name. I’ve seen some of your Osprey shots and stories– truly wonderful. I’ve been out of the blogging and commenting loop more often than not this summer, but I’m inching my way back to viability here. I’m looking forward to catching up on all things Birders Report. Thanks very much for the kind commentary.
Beautiful osprey shots and really fun blog! I saw this shared on a falcon forum and posted it to the osprey watch facebook page ( I am the administrator). Thank you for participating in osprey watch, spreading the word and for the great osprey story!
Thanks so much, Barb … for the post and for letting me know. Osprey Watch has given me a tangible timeline, if you will. I miss some weeks in documenting the local nests, but your website has made me more diligent about following the progress of the birds. I’ve also enjoyed tracking some of the nests around the country, and taking a look at the populations clusters.
I have just discovered this blog after searching for “bald eagle in downtown seattle” and was linked to your amazing essay. “Here he comes to save the day.” My husband and I have place in Pioneer Square overlooking the ferry buildings, with gulls and cow birds and crows for neighbors — it’s fantastic! This morning I heard a louder cacophony than usual, and thought for sure I saw a bald eagle being pursued by gulls, but was unable to capture with my camera. After reviewing your pieces, I am 99% certain that I did indeed see a bald eagle flying through the waterfront cranes south of the Ferry buildings.
Thank you for sharing your amazing work!
Hi, Louise … thanks very much for the generous comments! What a gorgeous location you’re in, overlooking the bay. It sounds like the eagle chase is precisely what you saw, particularly if the bird being chased was much larger than the gulls. If so, that means our eagles are back from their “vacation.” Where they go, I’m not 100 percent sure. If anyone with that local knowledge stops by here, I’d love to know. After nesting and rearing their young in Discovery Park and West Seattle, I don’t see them for while. I’ve wondered if they remain in the area and just keep a low profile somehow. But, I’ve read on local birding lists that both the Union Bay and Edmonds Bald Eagle pairs also go away for a bit and were recently spotted back on home turf. I hope this is the case … I’ve rather missed the eagle sightings in the neighborhood.
Thank you again for stopping by and for sharing your sighting!
I am also really enjoying the gull pieces — they are fantastic birds, and we are lucky to have had several nesting pairs for neighbors this summer. We watched the nest building, the mating, the egg laying…followed by the happy hatching of 9 youngsters. One of “our” juveniles fell off the roof requiring an afternoon dash to the PAWS Wildlife Center in Lynwood, where we met with out first tragedy of the season — the little guy had to be put down due to his untreatable injury. We feel very protective of our urban feathered friends, and I look forward to reading your site through the seasons of animal activity in this beautiful city.
[…] Osprey platform still waits for the pair to return after last year’s successful nesting season, their first in the new digs. Two of our six neighborhood Ospreys are back. I’ve been looking […]