Alabama Power installs new channel markers, osprey nests

By AMALIA KORTRIGHT/Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA– Alabama Power began installing new channel markers on Lay Lake on Oct. 26 at 8 a.m. after some of the channel markers that were previously on Lay Lake have gone missing or have rotten through.

In addition to the installation of seven channel markers, Alabama Power is also installing three artificial osprey nests on top of certain markers.

According to Alabama Power Environmental Affairs Supervisor Jason Carlee, ospreys are fairly common on the Lay Lake reservoir. There were no platforms on the original markers and ospreys would nest on a small area on top of signs that were posted. This is the first time that Alabama Power has installed osprey nests on top of their developments.

The platforms, also known as “osprey boxes,” were designed as 4-by-4 foot aluminum squares. The floors of the platforms are grated to help the ospreys weave their nests. There is also a 4 inch rail on each side of the platform to keep the nest material contained.

“By providing the platforms here on Lake Lay, it will give [the ospreys] an additional areas for nesting, and a little more stable of a platform, ”said Carlee. “This was just a great opportunity for Alabama Power to provide a conservation effort to preserve the ospreys.”

Southern Company Services Engineer Parker Livingston said that points where the markers will be placed have already been pre-determined and located with surveying equipment. The poles will be wrenched into an upright position over these points, and they will be driven into the lake’s surface by using their weight and the pull of gravity. If the marker hits rock, it will have to be moved to a new location.

The markers are a total of 35 feet long, and will stand approximately 10 feet above the water in order for boaters to clearly see them.

The markers will also be color coded and numbered in chronological order, from upstream to downstream, in order to give a denote the marker’s location on the lake.

Installing the channel markers and osprey boxes is expected to take three to four days to finish. Each marker will take around 30 or 45 minutes to install, and signs take around 15 to 20 minutes to install.

According to Livingston, no ospreys were hurt or displaced during the installation of the artificial nests. None of the pre-existing channel markers were taken down or replaced, and none of the old osprey nests were affected.

“This is actually a safer alternative,” said Carlee, “It’s outside of nesting season and ospreys are migratory birds, so most of them aren’t using the nests during this season.”

Alabama Power will also be installing new channel markers and osprey nests at Neely-Henry Lake near Gadsden during the upcoming week.

“Conserving fish and wildlife in their habitat is a key component to how Alabama Power manages its reservoirs and project lands,” said Carlee.