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Osprey nest relocation at Rockingham Park praised as a success

By Ryan Lessard
Union Leader Correspondent

October 10. 2018 9:34PM
Osprey parents perched on the new nest at the edge of Tuscan Village in Salem earlier this summer. (Pat Macoul)

SALEM — A pair of ospreys returned to a relocated nest this year at the Tuscan Village construction site.

The Salem Conservation Commission heard a presentation about the success of the project at its last meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Photographer Pat Macoul of Salem had been watching the ospreys since last year, but said others had known about their presence at the vacant Rockingham Park since 2015.

“I swung by daily — morning and evening — just to check on them,” Macoul said.

The mating pair had set up a nest at the top of a circular light post, but as development for Tuscan Village got underway that post was slated for demolition.

“I knew that the pole that was coming down and I was watching to see what would happen,” Macoul said.

Conservationists, New Hampshire Fish and Game and the construction crews working the site teamed up to build a replacement nest for the birds about half a mile away from the original nest on the same property while the birds were away last winter.

Macoul said the pair had hatched three offspring last year. This year, they weren’t sure if the couple would return, find the new nest or take to it favorably.

Jim Fiorante, construction project manager for Tuscan Village, said it cost about $35,000 to build the new nest. They used an old telephone pole and built an 8-foot by 8-foot platform for the top. They worked with naturalist Dan Geiger to create the nest, Fiorante said, using twigs and leaves from the original nest.

The old location was in the southern portion of the property about 50 feet off Rockingham Boulevard. The new location is at the edge of the property about 2,500 feet to the north, across the street from the Sears Service Center on Mall Road.

Fiorante said the new location will remain the same throughout the construction process, and it has the added benefit of being closer to Canobie Lake, where the ospreys are known to fish.

The new nest was erected in March, just in time for the returning raptors, which migrate south every winter.

Everyone was relieved and excited when the couple did in fact return soon after. Macoul first noticed them on April 22, and they hatched two juveniles.

“July 4 was extremely hot and I did get an unbelievable picture of the parents spreading their wings to bring some shade in the nest,” Macoul said.

Fioranite said the birds thrived in the middle of busy construction.

“I watched them like my little kids all summer long,” Fiorante said.

They’ve since migrated south for the season.

During Macoul’s presentation to the Conservation Commission, Chairman Ruth Tanner Isaks suggested possibly placing an informational placard about the birds along the nearby walkways.

Fiorante said the Salem Bike-Ped Corridor will be incorporated into the project, and other informational placards are planned along Linear Park with historical information about the Rockingham Park race track.

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