There is a tall channel marker on the Old Bridge side of the entrance to the Cheesequake Creek inlet, about 100 yards off the beach on a rocky jetty. It is one of a pair of channel markers, the other being on the Sayreville side of the inlet. No nest was spotted at this site in July 2014, but both markers would make feasible if noisy spots for nesting ospreys.
Look for 2 adults on the nest. The adult pair will show pair bonding behaviors such as vocalizations, aerial sky dances, and the male feeding the female fish. You may see the pair copulating, which typically begins 14 days before laying eggs.
Females will lay 1 - 4 eggs at a rate of one egg every 1 - 2 days. After laying, incubation starts. Look for adults taking turns sitting low in the nest incubating eggs. The incubation period can last 35 - 43 days.
Chicks hatch ~39 days after incubation begins. Look for adults bringing food to the nest and making "head bows" into the center. Chicks typically can't be seen until they are 2 - 3 weeks old, so feeding behavior is the only way to know chicks are there.
Around 4 weeks after hatching, look for the heads of chicks to show over the rim of the nest, particularly when adults bring food to the nest. Other times they lie flat and are harder to see. Count the number of chicks in the nest before they learn to fly
Chicks begin flying around 7 - 8 weeks old, and are still fed by the adults. Count the number of chicks who have successfully fledged the nest and are observed flying.
Chick Last Observed
4 - 10 weeks after fledging, chicks begin leaving the nest area to migrate south, once they have learned to fly and feed themselves. Record the date that the last chick left the nest.
Look for signs of nest failure like adult abandonment, adults no longer incubating eggs or feeding young.
I went in search of this nest this afternoon. A seagull was perched atop the Old Bridge channel marker. No nesting materials were spotted on either of this or the Sayreville marker. The spot was amazingly noisy, with an active draw bridge with alarm, motorboats and skidoos zipping around, ice cream vending trucks playing loud music, and hundreds of beachgoers laying out or playing in the water. The channel itself is busy with boat traffic when the bridge is up. Horns and bells signal the draw up and down. With the relative sanctuary of the state park on the other side of the highway, this doesn't seem an ideal spot for a nest. But stranger things have happened, I'm sure.