Monday, July 19, 2010

An Osprey builds her nest

A few weeks ago, during a photo outing at nearby Haley State Park, I was lucky enough to see a pair of ospreys (Pandion haliaetus).  These members of the hawk and eagle family are also known as "fish eagles" or "sea hawks", and thusly, their habitat is wherever large bodies of water occur that are suitable for fishing.  I'd never seen one until moving to CT.  They are beautiful birds.

Osprey platforms can be found throughout marshes and in small inlets, and during breeding season, I've noticed they are always occupied.  They also build nests in dead trees...and even on top of an Amtrak train wire platform!

I was able to get down on the edge of the water in the small inlet off the trail in the park maybe 100 yards away, and did have my tripod with me.  However, most of these shots were hand-held, panning with the bird as she flew through the air.  It was a moment like this I was thrilled to have a telephoto lens (and fast auto-focus!).

I took many photos of the female as she flew to and from her nest.  I tried to be still and unobtrusive, yet she was clearly perturbed by my presence...look at close-ups of a couple of the shots and you can see she's giving me a fierce look!  Her mate sat on a nearby pole - probably put there for that exact purpose - during the entire time I watched.

It was a thrill to be able to capture images of this beautiful bird.  I hope you enjoy them as well.

All are shot at full 200mm and at the fastest stop possible (f/4 probably).

On the nest
The man-made nesting platform is visible, along with her extensive nest of dead sticks.  The power lines for the Amtrak regional train are seen in the back (south-facing).

The osprey flies out over the open water of the inlet.

A glaring look
Birds of prey always have intense stares, and she casts a cautious glance at me as she heads back towards her nest.

Her very raptor-like silhouette and distinctive plumage is visible in this shot.

Another for the nest
After flying back over the train tracks, she returned with a new stick gripped firmly in her talons.

Final approach
Returning to her nest with her building material.

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