Thursday, June 30, 2011

First Light

If your goal is to film eagles and osprey catching fish, you had best be on location before sunrise because they will be hunting early and once they meet with success, it may be hours before they hunt again.  I have seen them hunting both before sunrise and after sunset in twilight conditions.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

About Face

I like this photo.  Except for one thing.  The heron is facing the wrong way.  I kept hoping it would turn around.  Conventional wisdom says that because it is looking "out" of the picture, it will cause a viewer to want to do the same.  I'm not sure I subscribe to this.  Think about the first instant you looked at it, and let me know your thoughts...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Depicting the Action

Of the last three photos depicting the action, I like this one the best, with the water dripping off it's bill in a dynamic arch.  Which is your choice?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Moment of Impact

It is hard to decide what has more impact.  No head and a big splash or water dripping of the bird's head as it comes back out.  This was the split second before yesterday's image.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Going In

Here is a close-up of a Great Blue Heron as it attempts to spear a fish.  It is notable because the nictating membrane is clearly visable.  The nictitating membrane is a transparent third eyelid which is present in some animals that can be drawn across the eye for protection while maintaining visibility.  It moves in a horizontal direction.  Tomorrow, I'll show the entire photo.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Story in a Silhouette

A seagull would just as soon chase another all over creation as go and get it's own fish.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Shakin' the Shack

This is one of my favorite pictures of an osprey because of it's whimsical nature.  It was raining (if you look closely, you can see the rain) and the bird had just gone into the river to catch a small catfish.  Osprey have something in commom with a dog that gets wet - it will shake all the water off of it's body.  The only difference is the osprey does it by pausing briefly in flight and shaking.  Who would have thought?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Talking Trash

Both eagles and ospreys do a lot of threatening (either one can be the aggressor), but I have never seen it come to physical blows.  Not that it isn't possible that it could happen now and then, but it is probably rare.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Constant Feuding

Confrontations between eagles and osprey often involve fish (the osprey, being the better fisherman, usually is the one with the fish), but not always.  The eagles, however, seem just as comfortable flying upside down as right side up.  While osprey can rather easily outmanuever eagles, I have never seen them fly upside down like an eagle can.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Food Groups

This gull caught what I thought was a snake at the time.  Later, I determined it was an American eel.  The gull dropped it right after this photo was taken.  Either the eel was too large to swallow or it is not among the basic food groups for gulls.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Nest Building

I was surprised to learn that the Osprey parents continue to build up the nest right through the period when they are raising young.  Since they use the nest over a period of years, fortifying the nest is an ongoing activity.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sea crow

Cormorant is French for sea crow.  Maybe you don't give them a second glance when you see them, but they are fascinating birds.  If they are on the water in singles or pairs, they are probably fishing.  They can hold their breath for an incredible length of time.  Imagine for a minute, chasing down fish underwater with your mouth!  They do it every day.  They are very successful at it so, if you watch one, you are likely to see the struggle that occurs to subdue the catch.  In this photo you can see the downturn in the tip of the upper bill, which allows them to pin their catch, making it difficult for the fish to get free. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sterling Tucker

Lost my little buddy yesterday.  We named him after a DC politician who I thought had a wonderfully colorful name.  We simply called him Tucker.  He will be sorely missed.  Rest in peace, little buddy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Change of Plans

I often wondered if an eagle traveling from point A on one side of the river to a point B on the other was simply traveling or also keeping an eye out for natural opportunities.  This eagle, flying to a favorite perch on the far side of the river could not have seen the fish in the creek, hidden by ten-foot-tall marsh grass, at the start of it's flight.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Practicing Majesty

While a sub-adult eagle hasn't gained the plumage of an adult, it exudes just as much confidence about who rules the skies.

Monday, June 13, 2011

By the Scales of Your Finny Fin Fin

Too big to swallow, the gull tried to pick up the perch by a fin and carry it to a piling.  It didn't get far before it dropped it again.  A couple more failed tries and it gave up the chance for a good meal.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Now, that is a Meal

The white perch would make a nice meal, but it is too big to swallow.  So the seagull is going to have to carry it off to a piling or somewhere it can pick it apart.  So the question is, Will the gull be able to carry it off?  See tomorrow's post.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Whatever it Takes

This odd photo of a tern was not Photoshopped, but appears just as it was taken.  My thought is that the tern was making it's body do whatever it needed to reach it's target while keeping it's eyes steady.  In other words, everything was turning except it's head.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Long, Tall, Cool One

After a Great Blue Heron eats a fish, it just has to get a sip of water, no matter where it is at the time.  I've sold more copies of this image than any other.  Who knew?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What Does it Take?

This isn't much of a photo, but it is the backstory that demonstrates something amazing.  I've only seen this twice.  The osprey depicted here was perched in the top of one of the background trees.  When it dropped out of the tree and dove toward the water (just out of view at the bottom of the picture), I thought it was going to catch a fish.  Instead, it swooped through the deadfall, extended it's talons and snapped off a dead branch to take to it's nest.

Consider that for a moment.  Think about the innate knowledge it needed to be able to successfully perform this task.  The conceptualization that it didn't have to wait for a branch to break off, but that it could meet it's need by causing it to break.  And then the knowledge that it could hit the branch with enough force to cause it to break.  Any miscalculation and it could break a leg.  This act, to me, speaks volumes about how much more intelligent and resourceful animals are than humans give them credit for being.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Hammer

When a Belted Kingfisher catches a fish, it will characteristically carry it to a place where it can dispatch the prey by beating it against something.  I am not sure they do this every time because there have been occasions where I have not seen it.  In the photo, I caught a female at the apex of a blow.  The female is identified by the rusty color on her breast.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

No Thanks

Of all the birds that inhabit the river, surprisingly few are carrion eaters.  The osprey is not one of them.   If a fish is dead or (as in this photo) dying, an osprey may come in and check it out, but it will reject an opportunity for a "free meal."  Great blue herons, likewise, are not carrion eaters.  In fact, they can be rather picky eaters.  I have seen two occasions where one has caught a fish and not eaten it.  Once, a heron caught (what I later discovered was about an eight inch rockfish), dropped it on the shore and stabbed it with it's beak, then walked away without eating it.  On the following day, the same bird caught a five or six inch unidentified fish and intentionally dropped it back into the river.