Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Don't Play with Your Food

Like the scratching of the tern posted yesterday, the behavior depicted here may be more common than you may think.  I have also seen a tern do this twice.  While in flight, I watched this tern - I believe it is a Caspian - drop the fish eleven different times and recatch it.  My guess is it was trying to get a fish that was at the upper limits of what it could swallow, in the best position to swallow it.  Still, to see it intentionally drop the fish, then overtake and reacquire it over and over again was amazing to watch.  The second time I saw the same action, the tern had caught a small flounder called a hogchoker, which would have also been difficult to swallow.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Learning to Fly from Scratch

I've seen this behavior twice; both times it was a tern.  The first time I thought it was random and never thought I would see it again.  After seeing it twice (this was the second time), I wonder if it something that occurs regularly but isn't noticed.  Terns do some other absolutely amazing things.  Maybe tomorrow I'll post something I saw one do a couple of years ago...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Unexpected Catch

After dropping the soft crab (see yesterday's post), the gull flew only a few yards before dropping down and picking up something else from the water's surface.  I'm pretty sure it was dead.  It hadn't flown far when it also dropped this.  After landing once more and retrieving it, the gull decided it really didn't want it and flew off without the rodent.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Now, that was a Meal

This gull picked up a softcrab in a shallow cove, but it started falling apart before it had flown very far.  The gull came back, but the crab had already sunk beyond reach by then.  It didn't fly but a few yards before it picked up another meal from the water's surface - which I'll post tomorrow.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Eagle Wars

The eagles and osprey were going at it hot and heavy yesterday morning on the Patuxent River.  I witnessed four separate confrontations.  In most cases, it is eagles trying to steal the catch from an osprey.  In the one pictured, however, it is the osprey that was so upset with the eagle that it was the agressor.  It is pretty amazing to see the eagles fly completely upside down with ease.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Holy Koi!

Did the osprey raid someones koi pond?  Why no, it caught it straight out of the river.  Good reason not to dump your kid's goldfish bowl in the river when they grow tired of them.  This was yesterday; today I saw another "gold" fish caught.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pecking Order

You've probably seen a bird fly in and "bump" another bird off it's perch.  All birds seem to do it.  Top "dog" gets the perch.  In this photo of a mated pair from yesterday morning, the bird on the perch would have none of it and refused to budge.  Her mate eventually flew off across the river to sit in another favorite spot.

I don't know who erects the bamboo poles.  This is the third one and the birds love to sit on them since they are right on the edge of the river.  This one is nearly twenty feet tall.  I wish the DNR would erect a nesting box along this shore which would be an ideal site for this pair of osprey who have failed four or five times now to successfully build a nest at different locations on that stretch of river.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I've Been Framed 2

It turns out they're easy to frame in a photo because they are always peeking out from behind stuff.  The processing on this photo was to make it appear more illustrative than photographic.  This is the last fox photo for a while.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I've Been Framed

I'm pretty sure the fox had been to a photo shoot before.  It knew where to "paws" so the pictures would be nicely framed.

Friday, May 20, 2011

In a Different Light

In some photos, the fox reminds me of something straight out of a fairy tale.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Seeing Red

You would think it's color would be a disadvantage, but the red fox's furtiveness and cunning apparently make up for it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Definition of Sly

The fox finally came around one day while I lay in wait for it.  Well, I wasn't exactly lying; I was standing.  Although it would hear the shutter clicking and look my way, it never recognized what I was.   Oh yeah, I'm the very definition of sly.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Now That's a Meal!

In all fairness, shad are a highly compressed fish and look like they weigh more than they probably do.  But in all fairness, it is still a remarkable catch for it's size.  Remember, the osprey had to subdue the fish and not let it drag him under.

Monday, May 16, 2011

With All it's Might

I wonder what the ratio of the weight of the fish is to the weight of the osprey.  I would guess the fish weighs almost as much as the bird.  Will it be able to pull it out?  (Continued tomorrow)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Beginning the Power Lift

After what seemed like an eternity, the osprey finally had control over the shad and began to pull it out of it's world and into his.  Unless it is a small, they will always situate the fish face forward for more aerodynamic flight.  How the osprey can regain flight off the surface of the water is an amazing feat in itself, but to do that with a fish the size of this one is nothing less than incredible.  (Continued tomorrow)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

To Catch a Fish

If a fish is small, an osprey may not even get wet, snatching it directly out of the water with it's specialized talons without having to land.  If a fish is large, most of the bird's body may end up below water as it struggles to subdue the fish and position it (head forward) so that it can get back into the air.  This osprey was in the water for almost fifteen seconds, an unusually long time from similar events that I have observed.  It finally was able to drag it out though, and tomorrow I'll post that photo.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Close Encounters

If this heron had gotten any closer, I would have had to switch to a macro lens.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Tongue in Beak

I have no idea what this was all about. 
Maybe I didn't get the mix right for the feeder.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Feeding on the Fly

I don't know how I got this photo of a baby tree swallow begging it's parent for food.  I can tell you, they are so fast, I have thrown out a thousand images of them where I missed focus or where they were so fast, they were already out of the frame.  Oh, by the way, they feed their young while flying!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

An Invitation to Play

Eagles will lock talons and cartwheel through the air.  These two are too low to do that here, but that is what they are thinking about doing.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Red Fox

While you can't see it's face, of all the photos
I have taken of the fox, I still like this one best.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Pileated Woodpecker

This was such a popular post that I thought I would post another shot of the male pileated,close relative of the Ivory-billed woodpecker now thought to be extinct. 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Thriving Community of Eagles

This is one of five eagles I saw yesterday (at the same time) on the Patuxent.  I am pretty sure there are more in the area that I wasn't seeing.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Making a Splash

The swallows fly over the river endlessly catching insects.  They frequently hit the water.  My guess is they are also catching insects from the surface.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Talon Washing

Quite often, to remove fish slime and scales from their talons, an Osprey will fly just above the river, dragging their talons in the water.