GOOGINS ISLAND, MAINE: AN OSPREY SANCTUARY
PLEASE KEEP OFF
The sign was on tiny Googins Island just fifty feet offshore in Wolfe Neck Park, Freeport, Maine. My husband Monte and I were there for two reasons. First, I was walking all the mainland beaches between Lamoine Beach, Maine and Wallis Sands Beach, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. And second, this island was named after the Googins family, one of my ancestral branches (see THE GOOGINS GENEALOGICAL LINE section at the end of this post).
At low tide, the area separating Googins Island from the mainland was almost like quicksand. Perhaps we would sink if we stepped onto it, I thought, as I stepped gingerly on rocks, avoiding the wet sand.
I was disappointed that we couldn’t walk around this tiny island. I also wondered: What is an osprey? Why does it need “sanctuary?”
As usual, I surfed the Internet. I discovered that one of the biggest natural attractions at Wolf Neck State Park is the osprey nest on adjacent Googin’s Island, viewable from the mainland.** Not knowing what to look for, I didn’t spot the nest.
The osprey became rare as nesting bird, especially in the northern and eastern parts of United States where unsuccessful reproduction believed result of chemical pollution of waters and fishes on which Osprey preys.*
It is considered a raptor—a bird of prey—and is listed in the biological order Falconiformes. It hunts for its food with its extremely sharp claws, excellent eyes, and powerful wings.
The osprey, almost eagle size, measures 21-24 ½ inches long with a wingspread of 54-72 inches. Although the females and males are outwardly similar, the females are larger than the males. Adult ospreys are: very dark brown above; clear white below; breast somewhat spotted or streaked with brown; head largely white like bald eagle, but broad black mark through cheeks, side of neck; bill and claws (talons) black; eyes yellow to brown; cere pale blue; legs and feet green-white; overhead, distinguished by white underparts, narrow wings, black patch at sharp bend, or “wrist”, of wings; tail fairly long, narrowly barred…*
It flies with slow powerful wingbeats alternated with glide… usual call is melodious whistle, chewk-chewk-chewk or cheap-cheap-cheap,” and exudes a peculiar oily odor that permeates both its feathers and its eggshells for many years.
Immature ospreys look like the adults, but their underparts are buffy, flecked with white.*
That ospreys migrate isn’t due to the fact that they cannot survive the north’s cold weather—it’s that when this cold weather freezes the river, it drives their food supply, fresh fish, so deep into the water that it is out of the osprey’s reach. Because these fish provide 99% of the osprey’s diet, its unavailability would likely cause the osprey to starve to death. To survive, the osprey migrate south to the mid-Atlantic region of the United States.
The osprey population once experienced catastrophic decline from New Jersey to Maine, a fact that is attributed to man’s encroachment on its estuaries and seacoast nesting habitat—and to the shooting of ospreys, especially in migration.*
No longer an endangered species, they appear on all continents except Antarctica, building nests atop high trees or on man-made structures. Living 15-25 year years, they mate for life, only finding a second mate if they lose their partner by death. ****
I had the opportunity to view osprey and their nesting sites in New York State in July, 2010, where I spent a hot afternoon attempting to photograph a bird that flew from its nest when as I set up my camera. To read this story, click on
NOTE: Photo contributed by Karl Geiger, whose wildlife pictures taken around the St. Lawrence Valley in New York State decorate the rooms and office at the cabins he rents, Sunnyside of Black Lake (3298 County Rte. 6, Hammond, New York. www.blacklakeny.com/sunnyside, 315-375-6742)
THE GOOGINS GENEALOGICAL LINE
Patrick Googins, according to tradition, came from Ireland at an early age. A woolen weaver, he was in the service of William Pepperrell at Kittery…It is said, that through the influence of William Pepperrell, he obtained the hand of Mary, daughter of Richard Rogers, Jr., in marriage. He settled on the estate given him by Mary’s father at Pepperrellborough (now Old Orchard), where he died in 1784 at the age of 84.
Patrick Googins and Mary Rogers had one daughter and six sons—one being Roger Googins, Sr., who married Elizabeth Welch of North Yarmouth, Maine, on November 20, 1760. They moved to Trenton, Maine, about 1768. Roger was the first town clerk of ancient Trenton, in 1790. Elizabeth died May 2, 1808. Roger died in May 6, 1830.
MARY GOOGINS & LOUIS DES ISLES
Which brings me to Mary Googins, born April 3, 1775 in Trenton. She was the youngest of seven children, one of five daughters, born to Roger and Elizabeth Welch Googins.
Mary’s siblings were Susanna, born 1763; Olive, 1766; Elizabeth, 1768; Margaret, 1769; Benjamin, 1772; and Roger, Jr., 1774.
Mary wed French immigrant Louis des Isles in 1794. They are not only my ancestors, seven generations back. They are two of the protagonists in my historic romance novel ( www.intertwinedlove.wordpress.com ), set in what is now known as East Lamoine, Maine.*****
*****The Googins Family in America by Charlotte H. Googins, 1914