Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Life Bird #150: The Elusive Osprey

It pays to take your camera along when making a pit stop.

Hmm... That didn't sound quite like I meant it, but I stand by the statement. There have been numerous occasions when I've been out birding, either by foot or in my truck, and emerged from a rest stop or port-o-potty to find birds that I've been watching for (or didn't even know to expect) perched outside just waiting for me. It's as if they've been carefully avoiding me as I moved through the area, but when I disappear for a few moments they have to stop by to see where I've gone.

Such was the case last week as I visited the Baytown Nature Center. I had one primary goal, one target bird that had eluded me both in the local coastal sanctuaries and in last summer's trip to Colorado — the Osprey.

I had tried all the suggested locales in the park to no avail, and after two hours of driving, walking and freezing I was about to give up on finding any ospreys. No sightings at the (completely deserted) Duck Pond or the Brownwood Marsh Pavilion, nothing moving on the promisingly-named Osprey Island, nary a sign of any perched in the trees by the Y-intersection. Finally I was running out of time and decided to head once more down the thin peninsula to San Jacinto Point for a final quick check for waders and cormorants near the fishing piers. I took my camera and binoculars and walked over to the little birders' room.

When I emerged from the cramped, plastic cave — Why are those things never tall enough for a person to stand up straight, anyway? — there he was, not thirty yards away, sitting primly atop a wooden piling near the water's edge.

Osprey - 2/15/2010
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

I moved slowly to a nearby park bench and sat, taking pictures, until this magnificent creature lifted suddenly into the air and headed across the bay. I followed his flight with my binoculars, but within seconds he was only a dark spot against the hazy background of the opposite shore.

Osprey - 2/15/2010

Minutes later I found him again, wheeling back towards me with a trophy clutched tightly in his talons, the triumphant fisher returning with his lunch.

Osprey with fish - 2/15/2010

Osprey with fish - 2/15/2010
Click any image to view full-sized version

I stayed in my spot as he returned to his former perch, taking a few more snapshots. But since he seemed somewhat reluctant to begin eating his catch with me in such close proximity, I decided to ease myself up and move on.

Osprey with fish - 2/15/2010

Osprey with fish - 2/15/2010
Click any image to view full-sized version

More to come from last week's trip to Baytown...

For more great bird photos from around the world, check out Bird Photography Weekly #78.

Bird Photography Weekly


JRandSue said...

Outstanding shot,well captured.
Thank you for your great comments.

The Early Birder said...

Good to see you back blogging Kyle. Super shots of the Osprey. This is a bird I don't get to every year but it's a thrill when it happens. FAB.

BTW I've reset my reader link so I can keep tabs on you.

Anonymous said...

Good ones, Kyle! Especially him perching with the fish.
Interesting that your elusive Osprey is a bird, that in these parts is one, that you really can't miss.
But I'm glad you got him! It sure is a beauty.

Anonymous said...

Great Osprey photos, Kyle! I love catching them with a fish!

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Excellent photos Kyle! I'm glad you finally got your Osprey!!

DaveABirding said...

At least he made up for your long wait by showing off a bit for you. Great shots, especially the first.

Johnny Nutcase said...

Nice! you got some excellent photos of your life bird! Great shots. Glad he obliging for you! Thanks for checking out my blog (i'm slowly in the process of updating my website!) .

Phil said...

Great photos Kyle. What a magnificent bird the Osprey is. I am luuucky to have seen it in Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa but here in the UK where I live I only see them in Spring and Autumn if I get lucky.

eileeninmd said...

Fantastic shots of the Osprey!

Susan Gets Native said...