By Colin Cuskley for The Island Connection
The Johns Island Conservancy, in cooperation with Berkeley Electric Cooperative, successfully installed two osprey platforms on October 3 at Mullet Hall County Park and Legare Farms.
The simple, easy to build platforms were based on a design provided by the Center for Birds of Prey Center in Awendaw. Berkeley Electric donated the “green” poles and did the “heavy lifting”. Johns Island Conservancy project manager Guy Leonard built and installed the platforms with the help of volunteers.
The installation is one of the Conservancy’s ongoing conservation action programs which also included the installation of a dolphin interpretive sign at Beachwalker County Park this last spring. The intent of the osprey program is two-fold: to encourage and provide for the local Osprey population, and provide educational opportunities throughout the community.
The sites were selected based on two main criteria: First, suitability for osprey nests and secondly, accessibility for public viewing from a proper distance. Ospreys prefer to nest in dead trees that are higher than the surrounding trees and are near water and good fishing. Suitable trees are hard to come by and have precarious perches that may fall at any time. Recycled telephone poles and flat platforms make excellent sites the birds can return to season after season.
The platform at the County Park’s Mullet Hall Equestrian Center is located on the far side of a one and a half acre pond that is easily viewed from the Equestrian Center. Ospreys have been observed fishing in the pond over the last couple of years.
The Legare Farms site is on a creek and close by the Stono River. Ospreys are already nesting on a nearby cell phone tower. Hopefully this platform will attract them away from the tower where they might be in danger. The platform can be seen from the Farm’s pumpkin patch and picnic grounds.
Another platform is planned for the Charleston Area Therapeutic Riding Farm along River Road before the nesting season begins early next year. Anyone with a suitable property for an osprey nesting platform or if a property owners’ association or business would like to sponsor one, please contact the Johns Island Conservancy at 843.637.4160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.