The fishing bird - the osprey
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Me, all prettied up
While sitting in a bar one day.................a person at the table mentioned that on his farm in Randolph County there is osprey, bald eagles, and golden eagles feeding on the fish in his ponds. I had my doubts about the golden eagle since it is easy to mistake a young bald eagle for a golden eagle, but I was very interested in photographing these birds feeding in his ponds. I asked if I could try to photograph the birds fishing in his ponds and the person said no problem. So I'd wake up at 4:30 in the morning drive couple hours and sit in my blind waiting for the birds.
(I told my wife I needed to started hanging out in bars more often since there is a wealth of information and ideas generated there...........I won't tell you what she said...)
The blind sitting out in the field looked like some alien space creature. Did not fit into the environment at all. Especially for these predator birds and their keen eyesight. Gary Lindamood who showed me how to get within 10 yards of a wild turkey in a blind would have been very disappointed. So I moved the blind back in the woods and covered the openings with camouflage mesh and covered part of the blind with dead tree limbs etc.
Blind moved back in woods and additional camaflouge mesh
The gentleman that owns the farm says the osprey, bald eagle, and golden eagle never fish at the same time. Must be territorial because they always come at different times, never at the same time. He feels the osprey is the most aggressive bird and would "kick the others birds asses". Even diving for the fish the osprey was much more aggressive than the other two predator birds. I got to witness the aggressive nature of an osprey in the Everglades. It was something to see. An eagle came too close to an osprey nest and the osprey attached and chased the eagle till the eagle flew away.
View out blind with mesh
This is the view from the blind before I put the camouflage mesh over the windows. there are four windows but try to just use one at time to keep light out of the blind.
First day in the blind saw between 40 - 50 migrating ducks. Also heard a familiar bird call from the beach , and when I looked out of the blind window seagulls where flying around and landed on the pond. The owner of the farm said whenever north westerly wind blows seagulls arrive at the pond. The seagulls did not stay long. I guess they realized their mistake. Shot pictures of the ducks all day. No osprey, bald eagles, or golden eagles showed up. Fun shooting all type of different ducks, some I'll have to google to get find out type of duck they are.
I didn't come for couple days and of course those days all the predator birds where spotted
The second time in the blind most of the ducks had migrated on and I saw the osprey once as he caught a fish on the other side of the pond and flew with the fish in his claws on the far side of the pond. Except for a few ducks that is all I saw that day. The weather changed and started raining and wind started blowing so I left early. Couple days later the owner called and said all the predator birds are feeding throughout the day. Never at the same time but during the day they all show up.
The third time in the blind
I was trying to get pictures of swallows that were chasing each other and feeding on the surface of the pond.
Not seeing any sign birds except the swallows chasing around on the pond I balanced the camera against the inside of the blind window and inside wall of the blind and rested. A noise like someone throwing a large boulder in the water startled me. I looked out the blind at this spray of water going at least 10 feet high and an osprey right in front of the blind starting to fly. He must of been perched right above me and came swooping down in the water to try catch a fish. The noise was like someone doing a cannonball off the high dive. I only got couple pictures of the bird as he flew off.
The osprey that dove into the water right in front of me.
Luckily he did not catch a fish and I captured him diving in the water again not too long after this. Once catching a fish he would fly up in one of the trees surrounding the pond and eat the fish. Sometimes he would fly off for an hour, or just sit in the tree for and hour or so, and sometimes after eating he'd try to catch another fish. Never knew for sure what going to happen. It was not continuous action but when it happened it happened fast.
Osprey sitting in top of tree looking for food.
Osprey eating on branch on a tree around the pond.
When he'd hit the water there would a loud splashing sound and the water would shoot at least 10 feet in the air. It was not a stealth attack it was ferocious attack that probably stunned the fish to keep them from escaping. For me, it was exciting to watch and try to photograph.
Slide show sequence of a osprey diving in the water and flying off.
Individual photos of the same sequence
Individual images of osprey catching fish, flying over pond, and making splashes.
I didn't get to see the Bald Eagle or the Golden Eagle (maybe young Bald eagle) but I did see quite an aerial show put on by these Osprey. At the end of day there were two osprey fishing but it looked like one of the osprey chased off the other one..The blind will remain up for awhile and if I get lucky I may be able to photograph other predator birds on this farm.
Thanks for looking