With their five-foot wing span, the ospreys will be easy to see. And if you attend the field trip, you might even see some turkey vultures and great blue herons, says Bob Walters, Watchable Wildlife coordinator for the DWR. To participate in the field trip, meet at the Rockport Reservoir dam from 6 to 7 p.m. To reach Rockport, travel on Interstate 80 to Wanship. Then exit the freeway and travel south on state Route 32 to the dam. From the dam, you'll follow Walters in your vehicle to viewing sites in and near Coalville, Wanship and Rockport State Park. If you'd like to join the field trip at one of the viewing sites, call Walters at 801-209-5326 to make arrangements. Walters will have some binoculars and spotting scopes available, but if you have your own, he encourages you to bring them.
During the trip, you'll see adult osprey and their young. Walters says each pair of adults had one to three young, called eyases, this spring. While there's a chance you'll see the ospreys fly, it's more likely you'll watch them on their nests, feeding and exercising their wings. Sometimes three feet or taller in height, the nests themselves are something to see. Walters says after awhile, the nests start to look like chimneys. "Sometimes, I think they'd rather build nests than fish," he says. "The nests they build are incredible." During the trip, Walters will also point out waters you can visit on a different day to witness the spectacular feet-first 'plunge dive' of the osprey. Ospreys make these out-of-the-air dives to snatch fish that are swimming under the surface of the water.
Walters says ospreys have special features that allow them to capture fish. Their outer toe is reversible. And the lower part of their talons are covered with sharp hooks that allow them to grasp slippery fish in the water. Walters calls the ospreys' plunge dive "one of the true spectacles of nature." To learn more about the field trip, call Walters at 801-209-5326.