CHATHAM – Four new osprey perches installed around Chatham recently not only will offer a warm welcome to returning birds searching for a place to nest, but also allowed local Boy Scout Carlisle Nash the opportunity to fulfill his Eagle Scout requirements in true Cape Cod style.
“At one point I was reading something in the paper about how there were so many ospreys and not enough perches, so they were nesting up in telephone poles and trees,” said Nash, adding that the nests, especially on phone poles, often proved damaging. “I started looking and said, 'One is way too few. Two is way too few. Three is too stereotypical, so why don't I just do four.'”
With a goal in mind, the next step for Nash, a Chatham resident and senior at Nauset Regional High School, was to find appropriate locations for the perches, which meant wading through a bit of red tape.
“First I had to talk to people on private properties saying, 'Hey, do you want an osprey perch here?'” Nash said. “One fell through so I had to find a new place.”
Nash then had to appear before the Board of Selectmen, detailing the project in the hopes of garnering support, which thankfully was resounding. Next came securing proper permits and getting the permissions needed to place the poles at their respective locations, all while earning top marks at school and breaking records as a member of the swim team.
“All the paperwork was me,” Nash said. “There were a lot of early mornings and really late nights involved in the planning, [but] from buying the materials and getting the poles done, that was two weeks.”
Online research resulted in Nash finding building plans for the perches, at which point neighbor Roger Caroll, owner/operator of Roger Caroll Boats, offered the use of his shop.
“If I didn't have him I don't think I'd have gotten anything done,” Nash said, adding that he's also grateful for the donations and support of Mid Cape Home Centers, Mass Audubon's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Chatham Shellfish Department.
On Feb. 10, Nash and a few of his fellow scouts, including Owen and David Van Sickle, recent Eagle Scouts, and Paul Carlson, set to work constructing the perches, which give the ospreys a place to safely build a nest away from wires and roadways.
On Feb. 22, Nash and his father Warren, also his Scoutmaster, delivered the various parts to the respective locations, on the causeway down by Morris Island, Harding's Beach, Ridgevale Beach, and at Long Point near the Oyster River. Nash said he's most excited about the Oyster River perch.
“That one I was really happy about because it's right next to the oyster fields, which the seagulls had been dive bombing all summer,” Nash said. “So I was like, 'Hey, osprey perch! That'll get rid of them.”
On Feb. 23, with mercifully cooperative weather working in their favor, Nash and a small crew of assistants, the Van Sickle brothers, Carlson, Tanner Cornell, Steele Ponte, and Nick Russell, set to work erecting the various perches. When the first pole was finally in place, Nash admits he stood back to admire his handiwork, though the project did not go off without a hitch.
“It almost didn't work,” he said. “We pre-drilled the holes and labeled them. The night before we dropped off all the very heavy perches and poles so that way we wouldn't have to lug them around. I accidentally confused the first and third, and on the third one of the holes was way askew.”
Fortunately, it was power tools to the rescue and the build was saved. Nash said he'll be keeping an eye on the new installations as osprey season approaches to ensure they're ready for their new residents.
“The next few months I'm just going to be checking around to be sure everything's OK, that nothing is leaning,” Nash said.
His accomplishments will be celebrated at an April ceremony honoring Eagle Scouts.
“My dad was talking about getting a plaque, but I thought that would be too expensive,” said Nash. “But I might put it on one of the poles.”
Nash said the real celebration will come when he sees the first osprey atop one of his perches.
“I'm going to be very happy,” he said.
So will the osprey.