Friday, July 9, 2010

Ospreys Times Two

When I went looking for Ospreys, I had no idea what I was in for!

In my home in Ohio, we don't have Ospreys. In Virginia, however, there are plenty. They're not as commonly sighted as Turkey Vultures, for example, but they are many. I love these beautiful birds of prey and they are very fun to watch! Over two days, I sighted around 4 or 5 Ospreys.

On July 7, we went to many different sites to try and view Ospreys, with no luck. The light was getting low, almost too low for photographs. Finally, we chose a spot overlooking a small marsh/bay and waited. Suddenly, a bird flew overhead- an Osprey! We guessed it would come back the same way (since they always have, in previous experiences) however, it did not. Disappointed, we waited longer-- only to find another Osprey! This time it was flying over the water, seemingly scanning the surface. Then, he quickly dove and...caught something! As you can see in the photos below, it's not a fish. And since the Osprey diet is 99% fish, it couldn't have been a mammal. The mystery was soon explained as we watched this bird take his prize to his waiting mate, and nest! The mate was chortling like an Eagle, it was a very neat sound to listen to. The fisherman then left again, off to hunt for more nest material. Taking his cue, we drove home.

The next day (July 8) would bring even more unique surprises.
On the way to July 7's Osprey sighting spot, we passed the >>>nest I saw back in April<<<>p the car! Ospreys!" I called to my dad. Since the nest is on the side of a busy road, it was a bit of a precarious task. However, I grabbed my camera and a walkie-talkie and rushed out to photograph the birds! The Ospreys loosely circled overhead for a bit, then some moved on. In between pass-bys of the remaining Osprey, I sighted Red-winged Blackbirds, Mourning Doves, Canada Geese, European Starlings, Killdeer, Common Grackles, Northern Cardinals, and Great Blue Herons. The big Blues gave some fantastic photo-ops while waiting for the Ospreys...

Also, this Osprey perched in a tree for a while before launching an attack on a fish. She flew by a short time later with her prize.

Then...the biggest surprise of them all...the Osprey burst out of the trees with a huge branch grasped in his talons! My hands were shaking; this was an incredible sight! Low light and all, I still got some decent photographs of this amazing feat of strength. The bird was visibly making a huge effort, he was panting and his wingbeats very pronounced. See the effort here in this sequence...

A very rewarding day, and a great send-off from the birds on the eve of the South Dakota trip. I got lots of great photos and experiences!

Photo of the Day
"Heavy Load"

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