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Osprey watch

Residents partner with Tollgate Farm to build nesting platforms

Created date

February 8th, 2016
Chet Tarczynski (left) and Tom Gray
Chet Tarczynski (left) and Tom Gray

When spring arrives this year, there may be a few more ospreys flying over Novi, Mich. Fox Run residents Chet Tarczynski and Tom Gray helped to organize a project at nearby Tollgate Farm to build a large wooden platform that will hopefully attract the large birds as they migrate north later this year.

“Ospreys are almost like an eagle in size, and their main food is fish, so the osprey nesting platforms are normally put up close to lakes,” Tom explains. “Tollgate Farm is close to Wall Lake, so we feel it is a good location.”

Love of nature

Tom, who worked at Ford Motor Company and Ferris State University, has always been an outdoorsman. In fact, prior to moving to Fox Run about ten years ago, Tom and his wife Margot lived in Canadian Lakes and had an 80-acre property that they turned into a registered tree farm.

“We always enjoyed the outdoors, and we found a piece of property up there that was for sale,” Tom says. “We planted red and white pine and spruce trees, and we sold some timber and did some harvesting with a group of nearby Amish people who we developed a very strong friendship with.”

When he moved to Fox Run, Tom wanted to stay involved in projects that would keep him outside in nature. He discovered that Tollgate Farm is within walking distance of Fox Run, and he’s been volunteering there ever since. 

Tom became interested in ospreys after visiting his daughter in South Carolina, where he observed the majestic birds. He and Chet were instrumental in bringing together Detroit Edison, Osprey Watch, and Michigan State University for the osprey project at Tollgate Farm.

Many Fox Run residents are involved in projects at Tollgate Farm, which is an historical site in Novi, well known for its picturesque views of rolling farmland. The 160-acre farmstead is currently owned by Michigan State University, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the Americana Foundation. 

The Tollgate Farm site represents a working farm with animals and retired draft horses from Greenfield Village. A variety of educational programs and classes are available at Tollgate, including homeowner horticulture, youth development programs, community food systems education, woodlot management, and agriculture and natural resources.