The Story of an Osprey and its Meal

Welcome, everyone, to my blog! This is my first ever attempt at writing a blog post, so I hope you all can bear with me while I give it a shot.

For my first ever blog post, I’ve decided to write about one of the coolest wildlife experiences I’ve ever personally witnessed in nature – an osprey catching it’s dinner!

I was hanging out at Iona Beach (a nice little bird hangout near the airport in Vancouver) last weekend, with a buddy of mine, my camera, and my new Canon 400mm f5.6 lens. After basking in the beautiful (and scarce, in Vancouver) sun for a little while, we saw a big, beautiful osprey soar into the scene. Of course, the sighting of such a majestic creature is always a very exciting occurrence for someone with a camera with a big lens hanging off of it. So, my buddy and I quickly fiddled with our camera settings to get everything in order, and trained our “sights” on the osprey, and started firing away (in camera lingo, of course – no animals were harmed in the making of this blog post).

It turns out the osprey was actually trying to gather some fish for dinner. Below are some pictures of the osprey going through the amazing process of catching its prey. I’ll give you a play-by-play as I take you through the pictures. Please click on each picture to see the full-quality image.

This whole thing was just incredible to watch. It started with the osprey soaring a couple hundred feet above the water. You could tell from the intense look in its eyes that it was scoping things out down below.

The process started with the osprey soaring a couple hundred feet above the water, scoping things out.

After floating around in the air for a while, all of a sudden, the osprey folded its wings in a way that apparently caused it to lose lift, and, at the same time, started aiming itself downward, going into a diving position.

Once the osprey spotted a fish, it basically started aiming itself downward...

... and made like a dive bomber.

By the time the osprey had gotten closer to the water, it was in full-out dive bomber mode, with its talons stuck right out in front of it, ready to essentially spear the fish it had apparently spotted on impact.

Osprey with legs stretched out in front of it, and talons poised to grasp its target.

Then… SPLASH! The osprey crashed into the water, making like a submarine, and totally submerging itself.

Splash! The osprey totally submerged itself.

A second later, the tips of the osprey’s wings started showing again, and it began to emerge from the frenzy of splashing water.

A part of the osprey's wings started showing again.

The next thing we saw was the rest of that amazing bird start to climb up out of the water, frantically flapping its giant wings to gain traction.

The osprey started climbing up out of the water.

Up and up… at this point, it looked like the osprey was walking on water!

The osprey seemed to be walking on water at this point!

The osprey seemed to be struggling a little bit to completely pull itself out of the water…

Here it looked like the osprey was having a bit of trouble pulling itself out of the water...

… but then we saw it had actually managed to catch a fish! Yay! (Well, great for the bird, anyway. Maybe the fish wasn’t so happy.)

... because it had the fish!

And off went the osprey, with its newly caught seafood. It was even showing off by grasping the fish with just one “hand”. From some other pictures I took a little later that evening (these pictures can be seen on my Flickr photostream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/joshlevinson), it was clear that the fish the osprey had caught was a catfish of some sort. Not the most pleasant looking fish in the world, but apparently good eating!

Off went the osprey, fish in "hand".

In this picture, if you look closely at the osprey's eye, you can see that his eyelid is partially closed.

What an incredible animal, the osprey is. Not only did it manage to spot that (relatively small) fish from a couple hundred feet above, but it was able to act as a sharpshooter’s harpoon, and spear the fish with unbelievable precision. This, ladies and gentlemen, is millions of years of evolution at work… what a perfect predator!

Either the osprey was very hungry, or perhaps it was bringing the delicious catfish sushi back to its nest to feed some youngsters, because the osprey came back four or five times that evening, repeating the process each time (amazingly, every time, the osprey went through the exact same steps – nature is so cool – sorry… this is my dorky scientist side poking through). What a sight that would be… mamma or pappa (I’m not a good enough birder to know if this was a male or female) osprey feeding some fish to a bunch of little osprey chicks! Hopefully such a sight will be in my not-too-distant photographic future (and may be fodder for a future blog post).

Well, that pretty much wraps it up for my first attempt at blogging. I hope I was able to convey even a tiny fraction of what an exciting event this was for me to witness to everyone reading this post. Thanks for reading!