A cooperative venture between Lee County Parks & Recreation and Pink Shell Beach Resort and Marina is taking place on the bayside border of the marina property and Bowditch Point Park at the north end of Fort Myers Beach.
An aged and crumbling wooden osprey nest that overlooks Matanzas Pass will be taken down and replaced by an already-built metal one for sustained longetivity. While the new nest is ready, there is a current delay due to an expected addition of an installed camera to be set up either on the replacement nest or nearby it. The "ospreycam" is the brainchild of Pink Shell's executive committee.
"Since Lee County is replacing the old wooden storm-damaged nest platform, we thought it would be a great opportunity to seek permission to place a webcam on the platform," said Pink Shell Marketing Director Ellis Etter. "We think it's a great feature that we are able to provide to our website visitors in cooperation with Lee County."
The old wooden osprey nest that overlooks Matanzas Pass at the north end of Fort Myers Beach will be replaced by a new aluminum-based one and will feature a webcam for osprey viewing on both Pink Shell's website and Lee County's website.
While Lee Parks is responsible for the nest replacement, Pink Shell will foot the bill for the webcam. The "ospreycam" cost is said to be $4,500.
The proactive project began when Turtle Time founder Eve Haverfield inquired about replacing the decaying osprey nest. She spoke to Lee Parks Senior Supervisor James (Skip) Franklin, and he agreed the nest was is disrepair and needed replacement. The Bowditch Park access to the nest is from Pink Shell's property.
Franklin said the new nest is pre-fabricated and has been manufactured by Lee Parks Facility Services, specifically the Maintenance and Repair Service. It is constructed with aluminum that is welded together.
"From what I understand, as far as osprey nest platforms go, the one they made us is the bee's knees," said Franklin. "It has four angle braces that will bolt to the side of the pole. It's all aluminum and the three-foot platform part of it is made out of expanded metal. The nest will have four perches on it."
Fort Myers-based Fiber Solutions is the company that will install the ospreycam once it is built in-house, according to salesman Mark Espinosa. Through email, he stated Fiber Solutions will be using a 2MP high definition IP camera with built-in IR Illumination.
"The imaging sensor will be able to adapt to varying lighting conditions," he wrote. "Being an IP camera, it will need to connect to the Pink Shell's network. It will be doing so wirelessly with a 5ghz wireless bridge allowing for a transfer rate of up to 54mbps."
Once the components are confirmed, representatives from Pink Shell, Lee Parks and Fiber Optics will meet on site to discuss the proper placement of the ospreycam. Franklin is unsure if Fiber Solutions will utilize one of the perches or use something different for installation.
"It depends how (Fiber Solutions personnel) want to mount the camera," said Franklin. "We don't want it to face the morning sun or evening sun though. We want to make sure it is mounted in the best position for the camera to work the best."
Haverfield stated the current nest has been in place for more than 20 years and is pleased to see the collaberation between Lee Parks and Pink Shell.
"What a wonderful opportunity to showcase helping those long-term resident ospreys," she stated through email.
Franklin confirmed that the old nest is one of the original wood nests that was built by Lee County officals and still used by ospreys during nesting season. It is currently unoccupied after the resident osprey fledglings moved on.
Franklins believes the design and input of the new nest came from Betsie Hiatt, the environmental manager for the Lee County Department of Public Works.
Once the nest is set up and the camera is operational, one can go to www.pinkshell.com and click on "ospreycam" to view images of osprey activity in the nest. Pink Shell officials said Lee County can be linked on to their site as well.
"We are all concerned about the well being of our wildlife inhabitants and with this opportunity are able to share, in a live birds-eye view so to speak, the day-to-day activity of one of the area's most common and well-known birds of prey," said Ellis. "This will include nest building, egg incubation, hatching and fledging. We are very excited about this project and look forward to the webcam going live."