You often read in the news about the negative impact mankind has had on the environment. While I am as upset as the next naturalist about those negative reports I am proud to say that here in Virginia Beach man’s impact has had some positive environmental effect.
Case in point is the remarkable rebound in the local Osprey population. Efforts by local, state and federal environmental and wildlife agencies has brought about a remarkable rebound in numbers. I grew up here and have been an outdoors man for most of my 60+ years but can’t seem to recall ever seeing more than one or two osprey up until about 5 or 6 years ago. Now they’re everywhere and nests can be found almost anywhere there is a tall tree. They’re especially fond of man-made “trees” such as this cell tower,By the way, I’m often asked how I get all of those great bird shots. Well, first of all, I shoot A LOT of frames every time I go out. When I get them downloaded to my laptop I usually end up culling 90% of the shots I got because they’re out of focus, the lighting was wrong, someone’s head or a car or plane is in the frame or either half of the animal is out of the frame or I just flat-out missed it all together.
I also have two feet of lens attached to the camera body and, along with the 1.6 form factor sensor in the camera all of my full zoom shots are equivalent to using an 800MM lens on a film camera. People seeing all of that glass on the front of my camera often ask if I take pictures of the moon with that monster and my standard answer is “No, it’s too close.”
There I go rambling on and most of you non-shutter bugs are asking “What is this fool jabbering about?” Well, I’m jabbering about this next frame. My camera lens is what’s known as a super telephoto zoom lens. That first frame was shot at minimum zoom or 100MM. This frame is the same bird at a little over half zoom or about 350MM. Both shots were from a distance of about 100 yards. By the way, this is a female Osprey. You can tell by the “necklace” of dark feathers across her upper chest. males are slightly smaller and the chest is pure white.But back to my original point. Man’s positive impact on the environment. Virginia Beach is the largest resort city on the East Coast and has 29 miles of scenic waterway, 28 miles of public beach and 38 miles of shoreline. With hundreds, if not thousands of boats in the city channel markers and navigation aids are everywhere.This one at The Narrows not only keeps water traffic moving in an orderly fashion and out of the shoals, it’s also an example of the efforts of local wildlife groups such as Chesapeake Bay Program and Lynnhaven River Now.There’s that big glass on the camera in action again at half zoom from about 75 yards picking out the nest platform built into the marker pylon. We have these platforms all over the city and the Osprey take full advantage of them. Must be real handy to be able to raise and fledge your young so close to the “buffet line”. Osprey, also known as fish hawks, are master fishermen. The female Osprey stay on the nest from the time the eggs are laid until the young birds learn to hunt on their own. In the meantime the male does the hunting. He’ll invariably catch a fish, take it to a nearby tree, eat the front half and take the back half home to momma. This goes on, all day every day from early spring right through the summer and it never fails to fascinate me.The preceding three frames were shot at the Narrows in First Landing State Park. This gem , where Linkhorn Bay and Broad Bay connect, is one of the well kept secret beaches the locals flock to in the summer while tourists crowds flood the Oceanfront which is our term for the resort area.Of course, we do have old school Osprey who prefer to nest in regular trees instead of the man-made variety. This bird was shot at full zoom as it was about 200 yards distant and there was no way to get closer without driving my new car through the Federally protected marsh where I was shooting at First Landing State Park.
The birds aren’t the only ones benefiting from local conservation efforts. After decades of erosion from winter storms the Federal, State and Local governments finally found a way to fund a beach replenishment for Chic’s Beach, the stretch of sand I grew up on along the Chesapeake Bay.This is the Texas, a dredge belonging to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company. In the past week she was towed into position by the tug Gulf Dawn and anchored about 500 yards offshore. Soon Texas will begin dredging sand from the bottom and pumping it ashore where a herd of earth movers will spread it out to triple the width of the beach. This will not only create a lot more space for surf fishermen, happy kids and stuffed bikinis, it will also help protect the houses built along the dune line from rising seal levels and future storms.This is Chic’s Beach and the southern end of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel which stretches 23 miles across the mouth of the bay linking Virginia Beach to Virginia’s Eastern Shore. We have a saying here in CXB (or Chic’s Beach), “No bad days!” and you can see the logo and motto proudly displayed on cars all over the area. Well, those days are about to get 3 times better!
That makes me smile!