I had been busy with Tufters & Tacey all afternoon, so we could not go until very late. After successfully almost-dying about 100 times at the rickety old Tower where Falcons dive bomb your face mercilessly while you try to climb (more on that very interesting adventure later), we caught a most spectacular sunset. So we pulled the boat over in the Sedge Islands to enjoy the last moment of the day, and take a few pics.
There was a hopelessly fallen Osprey Platform, right there in the middle of New Jersey’s largest Osprey Colony. We headed over to check it out, but it was no use. The platform was too big, too heavy, and the hole too unstable. What’s worse, a pair of Osprey seemed to be using its perch, and behaving as if they were squatting for that nest.
“I should come back and fix that,” said Ben.
“Sounds awful,” I thought.
I’m not sure exactly when on the dark boat ride home Ben started saying “We” should come back and fix it, rather than “I” should. But each time I heard “we” I twitched a little harder. First off, I’m exceptionally busy. Secondly, I’m exceptionally lazy. And lastly, I’m almost entirely useless when it comes to things like “digging” and “lifting” and “fixing”.
But somehow Ben’s gentle persistence won, and one time I responded, very accidentally, “Yeah, sure. Let’s do it.” But I was not worried. A life of laziness has made me quite skilled at weaseling my way out of things I haphazardly agree to.
Late that night Ben started txt’ing me pics of a brand new top for the platform he’d spent the night building in his workshop. I pulled myself up off the couch, brushed the popcorn crumbs off my shirt, attempted to swallow the two handfuls of popcorn I’d just shoved in my mouth, and said, “Crap”. There was no getting out of this.
Despite feeling mopey the next morning and suffering the kind of pity party a toddler might when it is asked to pick up its room for the first time, I reluctantly made it. I was terrified. I’m a weakling to begin with, but was also suffering severe exhaustion from three days of sunrise/sunset photo shoots and zero sleep. I wondered if the Medevac could find us in the Sedge Islands when lifting the platform snapped my spine in two, or I accidentally sawed my leg off.
Yet once the boat left the dock, things started to change. And when we arrived at the platform, we saw the situation was worse than we’d figured. Not only was there an Osprey couple squatting at the nest, but they were in full Courtship, doing the Skydance over our heads as we unloaded the boat. They didn’t even need a home. They simply needed a house that wasn’t lying broken on the ground.
And for that moment, I felt as motivated as Ben Wurst. For that moment, I saw the things that he sees every day. I felt the urgency. There was nothing to think. Nothing to say. Just work to do.
Thankfully Ben did almost all of that work while I walked around like a crazy person, amazed by a colony full of courting Osprey, occasionally handing something to Ben, or holding in place something he need to saw, drill, hammer, or break.
The Osprey couple flew around patiently while we worked, and when we left, they certainly appeared interested in the nest. We headed off up the Bay for a Peregrine check, and that’s when we realized we’d left a GoPro attached to the platform. Good Golly. We’ll get it on the way home.
Not even a half hour later, we returned to find our Happy Couple busily fixing up the nesting material we’d jump started the nest with, and filling it with more, making it their own. And as I climbed the ladder to retrieve the GoPro, the Osprey did not even let out a chirp… they just flew low, nearby, and patient.
They knew who we were. The knew we were the Good Guys. And for that moment, I really did feel like one of the Good Guys.
And then I immediately checked the camera to make sure it had been recording. It had. Sweet.
Enjoy the video, lovingly rendered in HD for you. HD button is in the top right of the player, fullscreen in the bottom right.
If you love seeing this Osprey’s Home getting fixed, go ahead and Adopt This Osprey Platform! Or adopt one near you. And follow along with Ben on the NJ Osprey Project Facebook page to see this kind of stuff happening every day.