Four of our six Seattle neighborhood Ospreys returned last week from the long haul of their migration. If you haven’t seen the tracking maps showing Osprey travel routes, take a look at this website: Osprey migration maps. For these studies, Ospreys are fitted with light satellite transmitters that fall off after two to three years. In the time before the Ospreys lose the transmitter, researchers gather data about their final destinations and their various stops along the way.

Our Seattle Ospreys aren’t wearing transmitters so I don’t know precisely where they migrated or wintered this year — Mexico or Central America or beyond. But, I do know they endured hardship to be with us again … to follow the trail and call of all Ospreys who came before, and to indulge the drives that bring them homeward to raise their young.

There are miles under their wings, and there are challenges to overcome — of wind and weather, fishing monofilaments, and fish farmers who fancy them none. Knowing what lies before all birds as they embark on migration it’s with pure relief and respect that I welcome them back — choking up with sentimentality, I don’t mind saying. After all these years, I still can’t watch Winged Migration without some tears.

Be well, my winged friends. We’ll look out for you while you’re here.

My first photo of this year’s Osprey season. The male here is perched on a railroad bridge next to his nesting platform in a public park. Often in Seattle, the looking upward pose signifies a Bald Eagle overhead. (Photos shot handheld with my Olympus OM-D + Lumix 100-300mm.)

Male Osprey at Ballard Locks Seattle 2013

Click for Larger Image – Male Osprey – ©ingridtaylar

My second photo shot on a rainy day, with the female looking on as the male arranges sticks in the nest below.

Osprey Pair at Ballard Locks 2013

Osprey Pair on Platform – ©ingridtaylar

Nick Cave

Across the oceans, across the seas,
Over forests of blackened trees,
Through valleys so still we dare not breathe,
To be by your side.

Over the shifting desert plains,
across mountains all in flames,
through howling winds and driving rains,
To be by your side.

Every mile and every year,
For every one a little tear.
I cannot explain this, dear,
I will not even try.

Edited to add a few images from this year’s nesting season: