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Posts Tagged ‘Osprey’

Saturday morning at dawn I noted than an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) had already claimed the most prominent nesting site at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. There are several man-made nesting platforms scattered through the wildlife refuge and there are usually some additional osprey nests in trees and one on the top of a hunting blind on stilts in the water. This particular nesting platform is visible from the parking lot, so it was easy to check to see if it was occupied.

osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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How do you mark the beginning of spring? For some, it is the time when crocuses and daffodils begin to bloom. Here in the Washington D.C. area, one of the signs of spring is the blossoming of the cherry trees.

For me, I consider spring to have sprung when Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) reappear. These impressive raptors, sometimes referred to as fish hawks, depart in the autumn and throughout the winter I eagerly await their return. Why? I gladly spend countless hour in fascination and enchantment as I watch osprey soaring through the skies, hovering in the air, and occasionally plunging feet-first into the water to catch a fish. It is also fun to watch them gathering materials to build or repair nests.

Yesterday I spotted my first ospreys this season while exploring Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge on an unusually warm and sunny March day. Here are a couple of my favorite shots from those encounters, which mark the return of the ospreys for 2019.

Osprey

osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) are really cool and I have been photographing them quite a lot recently.  However, they can’t quite match the majesty of Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), like this one that soared almost directly over me on Friday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

I never cease to be thrilled by the mere glimpse of a Bald Eagle and it is always a joy to capture an image of one in flight.

Bald Eagle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Most Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge are busily building nests high in the trees, but at least one chose a location that is almost at eye level. The nesting site is on top of a duck blind not far from the shore. The blind is essentially a small wooden shack that sticks out of the water on stilts or pilings.

The nice thing about seeing a subject at eye level is that it gives a very natural perspective that helps you, I believe, to engage more directly with that subject, literally seeing eye-to-eye. That is why it is usually recommended that you bend down to photograph children and pets.

In theory, it is easier to get a shot like this that to shoot upwards into a mass of foliage. In reality, though, I had to find a big enough break in the vegetation and shoot over a chain link fence topped with barbed wire, while moving stealthily so as not to disturb the skittish sitting osprey. I ended up stopping by the spot multiple times during the day before I finally got a shot that I liked. (For what it’s worth, I am not sure what the object in the foreground is—at first I thought it was a partially eaten fish, but now I don’t think that is the case. Any ideas?

Osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Like many other places, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge has some raised platforms on which ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) build nests each year. Sometimes violent winter weather destroys much of a previous year’s nest, but quite often the nest survives pretty much intact and all that is required is some spring cleaning and minor renovation.

The latter seemed to be the case with one of the osprey nests that I spotted this past Monday. An osprey was in the nest and appeared to be moving around some of the branches. In the first shot you can see some of the man-made elements of the platform on which the nest is constructed and get a sense of the relative size of the nest. I couldn’t get a really good look at precisely was it doing, though, because the nest was high in the air on a tall post, as you can see in the second photo below.

As I was watching the osprey, a bald eagle flew by and seemed to startle the osprey. The final shot captured the osprey just after it took off from the nest and really emphasized the massive wingspan of the osprey.

osprey

osprey

osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) were really active yesterday morning at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, including this one that was gathering materials to either build or repair a nest.

Initially I was standing next to a field that had been cleared some time ago, when an osprey swooped in and snatched up some branches lying on the ground. I was surprised and remember wondering if the osprey would return to the readily available supply of building materials. The osprey returned two or three more times and I was able to capture some cool shots of the osprey transporting some pretty large branches. I was pretty fortunate that the osprey had to fly almost directly over me when it was making its return trips to the unknown nesting location.

There are several nesting platforms in the refuge for ospreys and later in the day I spotted an osprey in one of them. The nest seemed to be pretty much intact from last season, though the osprey seemed to be busily making adjustments and probably was doing some spring cleaning. That may be the subject for a future blog post.

Osprey

Osprey

Osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Ospreys leave our area in the fall and spend their winters in warmer locations in Central and South America. Around this time of the year, I keep my eye open for their return and this past Saturday I spotted my first one of the year. The osprey (Pandion haliaetus) was perched in a tree with branches that partially blocked my view. As I tried to maneuver to get a clear shot, the osprey took off, giving me a view of its massive wingspan. As you can see from the two images, it was an overcast day and color is mostly absent. If you look closely, though, you can just get a glimpse of the yellow of the osprey’s eye.

osprey

Osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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