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DPOF is part of the Post-Morrow Foundation, a nonprofit land preservation organization.


Dennis Puleston 1905-2001

Where Dennis Puleston grew up in England, the osprey was never a common bird. When he moved to the Hamlet of Brookhaven after World War II, he was impressed that ospreys nested high in old trees along the Carmans River. Little did he know then that his beloved ospreys would seriously decline in his lifetime only to be restored by his commitment to their well being.

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NEWS & UPDATES — 3/7/10


With the end of the live video stream from the DPOF camera, this site will transition to an archive of the video and still pictures recorded over the seven seasons of the camera's operation. The first three seasons (2003-2005) are now online. Please follow the Archive link in the menu on the left to access the archived material.

The goal is to put all of the video and still images online and, in addition, to duplicate the archive at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at Cornell University.

The DPOF gang on 10 October 2009. The nest is in the background

The Dennis Puleston Osprey Cam
2003-2009

Dennis Puleston, a great naturalist and a great friend of the Long Island community, passed away in 2001. In the 1960s Dennis' study of the declining osprey population showed that the cause of their dwindling numbers was a high level of the insecticide DDT in the food chain, causing a catastrophic thinning of the ospreys' egg shells. With a few friends, Dennis sued the U.S. government, and began a movement that resulted in the banning of DDT in the U.S., and in the process created the nationally known environmental advocacy group, the Environmental Defense Fund. The osprey population on Long Island has since thrived.

Upon his death many of Dennis' friends contributed to a memorial fund — the Dennis Puleston Osprey Fund — whose purpose was “to encourage research about ospreys on Long Island, to improve the nesting opportunities and to educate the public about these magnificent birds”. With support from the Post-Morrow Foundation and technical help from Brookhaven National Laboratory scientists, the Osprey Cam was created and implemented in March 2003 as a memorial to Dennis.

A video camera and stereo microphones were mounted on a steel arm extending above an osprey nest atop a 38-foot pole near the home of Dennis and his wife Betty in Brookhaven Hamlet. Buried cables brought video and audio signals from the nest to a computer in a nearby barn on the Puleston property. From there, with the help of the local cable company, Cablevision, the data stream was uploaded to another computer located at Brookhaven Lab and linked to the internet, providing live streaming video and sound of everyday life in the osprey nest — 24 hours a day — throughout the annual cycle as these birds courted, mated, tended their eggs, raised their young, fended off predators, and finally, after fledging the juvenile birds, left in late summer on their annual migration. This spectacular view was available to anyone across the globe with access to the world wide web.

The first year the camera went live it was one of the very few, if not the only, wildlife viewing web-cams that had sound, live streaming video, and still photo capture. The web site's Observation and Message Boards were open to the public and needed close monitoring since there were hundreds of questions from the early viewers; Osprey Cam committee members were kept busy trying to answer them all. Since we had never before had a view from the camera's perspective, looking down into the nest, many things were new to us as well. Trying to keep up with the video clips of interesting observations and selecting which still shots to save was time consuming and sometimes tedious, but the clips proved popular. Over time observers on the web began researching osprey facts and posting them on the Message Board, many friendships evolved and the regular visitors called themselves “Featherheads”. People were now posting their own bird pictures and setting links to their albums. The Message Board has turned into a sort of chat-room where people from around the world share their experiences and help each other with not only osprey data, but many other species and topics as well. Capturing video from the camera became a tool shared by anyone who asked how to do it. The online guest book on the Osprey Cam site garnered entries from virtually every time zone around the globe, and, with hundreds of observers making entries in the observation log, every important event has been recorded, season after season, with notes from eye witnesses.

Fortunately, in each of the seven years that the Osprey Cam has been operating the nest has been occupied by a breeding pair, with 2-3 chicks successfully fledged. Every year the adults (undoubtedly a different pair each year) arrived at the nest in mid-March, and by early September the adults and young had left the nest. It is remarkable that the camera system survived through six seasons, and has remained on the leading edge of wildlife “cam” technology.

We are pleased to have been successful pioneers, and recognize that the project cannot continue indefinitely. At its heart the Osprey Cam is a computer project, and computer technology typically gets old in a span of about 18 months. Our camera site, and the group of dedicated volunteers that maintain it, has had remarkable staying power. In 2008, however, the system was damaged by a lightning strike early in the nesting season. Not wanting to disturb the birds during the breeding period, the camera was not removed for repairs until late in the summer. With a new camera in place, further damage to the system was found during the 2009 season, the most serious being a fault in the underground cable from the nest to the barn.

Now, having assessed the state of our ageing equipment and the increasing likelihood of further failures, the committee has decided that the season just completed has been the last for the Osprey Cam. We will continue to maintain the website, where visitors can interact via the Message Board, view the observation data and highlight clips from past seasons, and link to other wildlife viewing sites.

After seven eventful seasons in which observers from more than a dozen countries, including many school classrooms, have shared their enthusiasm and interest for these wonderful birds we feel that the project has succeeded in its mission, not just for Long Island ospreys, but for ospreys around the world. It has truly been a fitting memorial to Dennis.

—Tom Ludlam, Rick Mohlmann, David Shore, Tom Throwe
For the Dennis Puleston Osprey Cam Committee

The message board is available.

Please show your support for this site by signing our Guest Book.

LINKS MISSION STATEMENT

Download plans for making your own osprey platform (PDF version)

Visit the Friends of Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge Web site, an important home of the ospreys.

The Dennis Puleston Osprey Fund will encourage research about ospreys on Long Island, improve their nesting opportunities and educate the public about them. The Fund recognizes that for ospreys to be successful they must have a viable and healthy habitat in which to live, an objective that Dennis clearly understood and supported.

 
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