Written by SurfWriter Girls Sunny Magdaug and Patti Kishel
When Chris Ulshafer introduces himself, he’s likely to say, “Hi, my name is Chris, and I’m a bird man.” Outside his home in Bear, Delaware, near Chesapeake Bay, there’s a whole world of wildlife putting on a show for his camera. Especially the birds.
From the ospreys, who he has even given names – Bonnie and Clyde, Boris and Natasha, Sonny and Cher – to Bald Eagles, blue herons, finches, wrens, vultures and more.
Now that he’s retired, Ulshafer – a former Eagle Scout and Boy Scout camp counselor – has time to pursue his outdoor interests, monitoring the birds’ comings-and-goings at nearby Locust Point, which is a haven for wildlife.
Ulshafer has come to know the ospreys, in particular, and keeps his telephoto lens trained on the new eggs and chicks in the various pairs’ nests, watching as the parents bring back food and teach their young to fly.
There’s lots to look at, too, since Chesapeake Bay is home to one of the largest concentrations of nesting ospreys in the world.
A volunteer and “resident scientist” for Cornell University’s School of Ornithology, Ulshafer works with the Audubon Society to collect data that helps to track and measure the birds’ habitats and migratory patterns.
“It puts me in my car on dirt roads where the osprey nests are,” says Ulshafer, who adds that the assignment’s “worked out quite well to relieve retirement boredom.”
In addition to the birds, Ulshafer sees other things that get his attention, including wandering turtles, butterflies…
And this horse named Bubba, who always comes to the fence to say “Hello.”
Ulshafer, who grew up in Southern California and went to Culver City High School with SurfWriter Girl Patti, has adapted well to his East Coast home and he and his wife Jan enjoy the natural world around them – or, as he calls it, “my outback.”
Whether it’s from the deck of his house or on the trails of the state park steps away, Chris Ulshafer has his camera in hand and is on the lookout for his wildlife neighbors.
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