Spring has been an active time on the creek for local wildlife. Ducks and geese are pairing up for parenthood, muskrats are cleaning their runs, blue crabs are crawling out of the mud, and numerous shorebirds are arriving for the summer. Osprey arrived in March, egrets arrived in early April, and just last week terns and willets joined the fun. Of course bald eagles are ever present, in fact, one landed in a pine tree next to us during today’s paddle.
It’s been fun watching Forster’s Tern spot small fish and dive into the creek from 20 feet above. Did you know that Forster’s Tern build elaborate floating nests in salt marshes? The nests are constructed of dry marsh grass capable of floating the tern and her young. The nest is contained in the marsh interior by surrounding vegetation preventing it from drifting into open water. When the tide rises, the nest floats to accommodate the higher water within the wetland system. Spawning carp aggressively work their way into the marsh channels and runs to overturn the floating nests for the prized food inside. Nests, however, are sometimes built on top muskrat lodges as a simple way of staying above the water line and away from danger.
With a view well above the Forster’s Tern nest, osprey nests are often found in large pine trees close to the creek. In Ocean City and other similar urban areas, osprey is an opportunistic nester. They will select telephone poles, channel markers and man-made platforms as a summer home. Nests consist of branches, sticks and various other foreign objects like balloon ribbon and plastics. Osprey eggs do not hatch all at once. It may take 5 days from the first to the last to hatch. The first born is often the most aggressive and will dominate feedings. In lean feeding years, younger hatchlings may starve due to the tenacity of older siblings.
Come on out and enjoy a paddle on Ayers Creek and get an up close view of the terns, osprey, bald eagle and all the local shore birds.
Ayers Creek Adventures