Where’s the Osprey Cam?

Hello, Friends of the James River Park!

I hope you have been taking advantage of the nice Spring weather these past few weeks. I am excited to see so many people out enjoying the James River Park System this time of year. I am even more excited about all the active wildlife this time of year. I see snakes, deer, osprey, turtles, and other animals nearly every time I go into the Park.

Some of you may have been wondering about where the RVA Osprey Cam is this year, and I want to share an update with you all about the current status of the camera. The RVA Osprey Cam is just one of the many ways we put the dollars you donate to work in the Park. The short answer is that part of it broke during the off-season when there were no birds in the nest and we have been struggling to find a way to safely get it fixed since February.

The longer answer, if you are interested, is that the location of the camera makes maintenance difficult. My biggest concern will always be the safety of the people who have to go out and fix the camera. The pillar on which the camera is affixed is located approximately 200 yards downstream of the T-Pott bridge, in a relatively rough section of river between two sets of rapids. In order to figure out what was wrong initially a technician needed to raft out to the pillar, climb it, and then assess the situation. That initial trip was made in late February.

Rafting to the Osprey Cam
Rafting to the Osprey Cam

There is sort of a narrow range of conditions under which we can mount a safe maintenance trip to the camera. Those conditions are also dependent on the availability of the technician we work with to maintain the camera. The other major factor is water level, which can be unstable throughout the Spring. It needs to be under 5 feet to safely access the camera without unnecessary risk.

The camera was manually reset at the nest earlier this Spring, which to our surprise did not fix the problem. The technician went further downstream in the system to check the antennas and noticed that one of our relay antennas that helps us get the signal onto the internet was damaged. That land-based antenna has been replaced and another trip to the camera is needed in order to replace the antenna on that end of the system.

The changing conditions of the river, and the activity of the birds themselves, have presented a unique set of challenges to getting the camera up and running this year. We have called off several attempts to complete the repairs due to it being too risky for the people who have to go out there, and our most recent attempt was canceled for the safety of the birds. We did not want to disturb them in their nest when they were so active, especially since they didn’t have any eggs hatch last year. We predict our next chance to fix the camera will be in early June after the eggs have hatched.

I know this is disappointing for some of you. I want to see the camera operating again also. It is still our goal to get the camera up and running as soon as we can do so without endangering the birds themselves or the people who have to do the work.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. We take our work to protect, expand, and enhance the JRPS seriously. We know the RVA Osprey Cam is part of the JRPS experience for some people, and we will have it back up and running as soon as we can. In the meantime you can get a great view of Maggie and Walker from the T-Pott Bridge – just don’t forget your binoculars!

See you in the Park!

-Josh

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