Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Osprey Fly-by

Merritt Island NWR near Titusville, Florida is a world-famous birding hotspot. But it's perhaps even more popular among bird and nature photographers for the opportunity to burn up film—or electrons—on glamorous creatures such as wood storks, bald eagles, roseate spoonbills, American alligators, plus large numbers of herons, egrets, shorebirds, and waterfowl.

Early and late in the day, Black Point Wildlife Drive is busy with vehicles full of folks seeking that perfect nature image. The cars, trucks, and vans drive along very slowly, with all manner of optical and photographic gear poking out of the open windows.

I was standing next to my rental car on Merritt's Black Point Drive one fine morning in late January, when a male osprey came up off a nearby impoundment. He was not carrying a fish. He was carrying nesting material. It was a part of a palm frond, soaked and heavy from the water. The osprey labored low across the water, then along the shore next to me, passing so close that I could hear the air in his wings. At his nearest point, he was too close for me to get a photo with my 300mm lens.

We eyed each other and I gave him the thumbs up for his obvious industriousness. It made me wonder if ospreys pairs understand the concept of the "honey-do list"?

Here's the series of images that I did manage to get.

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At 2:02 PM, Blogger Rondeau Ric said...

A little male bonding going on here Bill?

At 3:43 PM, Blogger cyberthrush said...

As a youngster my best friend and I were already birders when we joined a Little League baseball team and suggested "Ospreys" as our team name. The other kids had never heard of such a goofy name and offered up other choices. But the next week my friend brought a L.A.Fuertes picture of an osprey in flight (similar to your final pic) -- we took a vote and immediately became the Fairview Park Ospreys for the next 3 successful yrs! ;-)

At 5:03 PM, Blogger Julie Zickefoose said...

OMG! These are amazing!

But I think he is very much like you, Bill, and is hauling a tiki torch to his nest for an over-the-top festive event.

At 7:36 PM, Blogger Kathleen said...

So cool! At first I thought the poor guy was carrying the remains of a broom, feather duster or a very long toilet bowl brush. Good to know it was of natural origins.

At 9:39 PM, Blogger KatDoc said...

That is a HUGE stick! I am impressed - this guy must have been working out to carry this monster back to his nest.

Or (and I hate to suggest this) could it possibly be a FEMALE Osprey, doing some decorating? You know, I have to strike a blow for feminism now and then. :)

Thanks for such terrific photos, Bill!


At 10:07 PM, Blogger OpposableChums said...

Sadly, the "thumbs-up" gesture, to a Grand Ol' Osprey, means, "Hey, put that thang right back where ya brung it from, buddy."

At 6:25 AM, Blogger Jayne said...

Now THAT made mama proud! :C)

At 6:35 AM, Blogger Julie Zickefoose said...

Katdoc, it is a male--a female would have brown markings on her breast, the "osprey bra."

I keep coming back to the last photo where he's struggling--he reminds me of an old lithograph of an eagle, the stylized ones who carry arrows in their talons--or an Audubon painting, all sinuous and laboring.

At 7:59 AM, Blogger linda said...


Reminds me of my first eagle near the Chesapeake also with nesting material, though "my" eagle seemed to be toting phragmightie (sp)

At 12:25 PM, Blogger Janet Creamer said...

Great series of pics. I love seeing action shots like these. I also enjoyed your Least Bittern pics from the previous post.

I hope Mrs. Osprey graciously accepted that stick and didn't tell him "Get that muddy old thing out of here!"

At 1:14 PM, Blogger dguzman said...

He must've been exhausted!

At 1:55 PM, Blogger Owlman said...

Great shots Bill. Ospreys are great to photograph and I sure would burn some serious space on my memory card.

At 7:48 PM, Blogger KatDoc said...

Thanks, Zick - I didn't know osprey were sexually dimorphic.

Male or female, the pics are thrilling. Thanks for getting them, Bill.


At 9:26 PM, Blogger Mary said...

A tiki torch! LOL!

At 11:09 PM, Blogger pineyflatwoodsgirl said...

Ospreys always seem to be doing something interesting!


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