Message From the Captain is a compilation of fishing advice, waterman and weather insights, Chesapeake lore, and ordinary malarkey from the folks who keep their feet wet in the Potomac and St. Mary’s rivers.

With fall upon us, life around the marsh takes on a whole new perspective. The air and water temperature are rapidly lowering as recorded at the NOAA buoy at Point Lookout at the mouth of the Potomac River at the Chesapeake Bay. According to the Interpretive Buoy System, the water temperature has fallen below 70 degrees Fahrenheit (less than 67 at the start of the week) and salinity approaching 10 parts per unit.

The ospreys of St. George Island, for the most part, have migrated down the 77 parallel to overwinter in the uppermost reaches of South America. The adult birds start to leave in September and the youngsters join the stream of other migrating ospreys going south in October. Ospreys have “nest site fidelity.” Pairs reunite each spring at their nest, but do not overwinter together. The young return to the area in which they were born to start new nests, not their first spring, but as 2-year olds.

Once the ospreys leave, the bald eagle reigns supreme! They live here year-round but generally stay close to the woods in the summer. The eagles and the ospreys get along like the Hatfield’s and McCoys. It is always fascinating to see the eagles start perching in osprey nests late August and during the winter. They also take material from osprey nests and refurbish their own nests with it.

Big changes take place with plants that live in the marsh and around the shoreline: most notably the High Tide or Water Bush as we locally call it. They attract the Buckeye Butterfly.

The Monarch also visits our plants in the fall as it migrates toward Mexico.

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Reprinted with permission from Cap’n Jack and from the