Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

Mike Oxley

Cornwall Ontario, Canada

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Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
Cooper Marsh Conservation Area, Lancaster, Ontario, Canada
April 24, 2011

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I couldn’t believe my luck today. I decided to revisit The Marsh, I decided to bring the Bigma along and I decided to mount it on the tripod and hook up the camera before setting out along the trails. I was halfway along the boardwalk, having fun shooting the goose and the Tree Swallows from Friday, up close and personal, as it were, when I spotted a large bird in the trees at the far end of the walk.

“Probably a mucky old crow,” I thought. As I got closer, it seemed much larger than a crow, so I got closer still. Much to my surprise, I recognized it as an Osprey, a raptor I had heard about but had never seen before. I took a few shots, then moved along to get a bit closer still and to get a better angle. I noticed it kept ducking down and I realized it had a fish in its talons. A perch, judging by the orange fins.

More shots taken, then I thought it would be great to get closer still, so I left the boardwalk and went round to the other side of the trees, only to watch it fly away.

With thanks to canadianbiodiversity.mcgill.ca

The osprey is a large powerful raptor that breeds along large rives, lakes, and coasts throughout the world; virtually anywhere it can find adequate supplies of fish in shallow water.

To capture its prey, the osprey hovers as high as 30 – 40 meters above the water. When a fish approaches the surface, the osprey dives feet first into the water. If it’s lucky, it will return to the nest with a meal. In the nest, the fish is either consumed whole, or handed over to hungry young osprey, which consume roughly 1 kg of fish per day.

Osprey nests are bulky, cumbersome structures made of dry sticks, usually placed at the top of a live or dead tree, utility pole, or large rock. Osprey continue to add on to their nests, which are used year after year. In fact, individual nests have been used for more than 100 years.

Because of the osprey’s high position in the food chain, accumulation of the pesticide DDT led to a dramatic crash in osprey populations between the 1950’s and 1970’s. Since then, use of DDT has been banned, artificial nest platforms have been built, and critical habitat has been protected.

The result: osprey populations have recovered considerably.

Sony Alpha 700, Sigma 170 to 500 at 500 mm
iso100, spot metered, F9.0, 1/640 second

Artwork Comments

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