Hold Tight. I’m Gonna Try To Blow Up Your Phone With 100 Osprey Adventure Pix….

#1. Ben sets out at dawn.
#2. His morning commute, cruising through the back channels of Barnegat Bay.
#3. Talking shop with a volunteer. That’s Michelle Stantial of Piping Plover fame, who has volunteered to help out on her “day off” from dumpster diving. She probably just wants to see what a real bird looks like up close. Kidding!
#4. First stop is the historic “Pete Mclain” nest. This is one of the oldest in Barnegat Bay and a special, secret favorite of Ben Wurst. A perfect place to start a long day dedicated to the Osprey.
#5. The Sun barely breaking and the work has already begun.
#6. Ben keeps an eye on the adults dive bombing his head, while their baby keeps an eye on Ben’s sweet Osprey tat. Ben has a goal at work today.
#7. The top of The Stairway To Heaven.
#8. Checking the Channel Markers.
#9. Tough work in tight quarters.
#10. Ben Wurst: A guy who loves his job, and a bird who is slightly confused by it, but better off because of it.
#11. Welcome To The Family. A freshly red-banded Osprey watches Ben & Michelle leave for the next nest.
#12. “Knock knock.” “Who’s there?” “Ben Wurst.” “Don’t banded me please!” 100 captions for 100 photos… they ain’t all gonna be winners.
#13. The Boa. Some of you who cruise the Bay behind Long Beach Island might recognize the nest on 49A as the “Pink Feather Boa Nest.” Here Ben removes the adorable feather boa, along with all of the balloon ribbon and plastic debris stuck to it. The boa is cute, and it’s distinctive, but it is also unbelievably deadly for young Osprey.
#14. The distinctive orange glow of a young Osprey’s eye.
#15. Channel Marker Baby.
#16. Sunrise at the LBI Foundation.
#17. More tough work in tight spaces on a Channel Marker.
#18. So close to flight. Last chance to band.
#19. Michelle’s “Who brought the n00b?” face, after accidentally kicking Ben’s ┬áchannel lock pliers off a channel marker and into the bay.
#20. Ben’s Commute….

Uggghhh. How much longer to 100???!!! O.K., I quit. Getting to 100 is too hard. It’s too much work.

Attempting this post makes me realize what a huge number 100 is, and what an incredible accomplishment it is that Ben Wurst managed to deploy 100 Osprey Red Bands in Barnegat Bay this summer. It’s a record. Ben broke 100 during the survey in the photos you see above. It was only achieved because of his passion and his dedication to our local Osprey.

Sure, there was certainly some good fortune involved. Weather, winds, and tides conspired to create multiple opportunities in the right windows for Ben to survey the Bay. And a healthy Osprey population with good reproductive rates produced far more than 100 babies this year, all healthy enough to join Project Red Band and become ambassadors for the species, and especially for the Bay.

But in the end it was Ben’s tireless dedication that made the difference, and for that, we thank you.

Reflecting on Ben’s amazing accomplishment this season inspires me enough to squeeze out one more photo:

#100. Meet “Century”: the 100th Osprey ┬áred-banded by Ben Wurst in 2017.

Congratulations to Ben Wurst & The NJ Osprey Project. We’d love to say we don’t know how you do it, but the fact is we do. Dedication, hard work, and commitment to our local Osprey.

Now that we know what you’re capable of, we’re all looking forward to 200 in 2018.