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Posts Tagged ‘Pandion haliaetus’

An osprey circled and circled overhead early Monday afternoon at Huntley Meadows Park and finally made a strike, pulling a good-sized fish out of the water. I captured the first shot as the osprey flew by me with its catch, which is just visible between the wings. In the second shot, the osprey was flying away over the trees.

Ospreys have recently reappeared at my favorite local marshland park and these are my first shots this spring at this location. The last couple of years they have shown up regularly enough that I wonder if there might be a nest somewhere in the park. I have wandered about in many remote areas of the park, but so far have not located a nest for the ospreys or for the bald eagles, which I also see pretty regularly in the park.

osprey

osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When I first spotted an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) yesterday afternoon, it was perched at the top of a tall tree at Lake Cook in Alexandria, Virginia. Suddenly it began a series of what seemed to be warm-up, stretching exercises. The position reminds me a little of the obelisk position that some dragonflies assume to avoid excessive exposure to the sun. A short time later, the osprey took to the sky.

As I attempted to track the osprey circling overhead, I found myself shooting in radically varying lighting situations. The sky was blue, but there were large expanses of gray and white clouds. Some of the time I was also shooting directly into the sun. As a result, the two in-flight shots below look almost like they were shot on different days, when in fact they were taken only seconds apart.

osprey

osprey

osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I inched my way forward yesterday when I spotted this bird in a tree at the edge of Lake Cook in Alexandria, Virginia. Gradually I came to see that it was an osprey (Pandion haliaetus) lunching on a fish. When I moved a few steps closer, however, it detected my presence and its reaction was quicker than mine—I couldn’t quite keep the osprey within the frame of my camera.

I have included an image of the osprey just before it took off to give you an idea of what I was seeing as I was doing my best to be stealthy. The eyesight and reactions of raptors is so good that it is really tough to get even this close. I suspect that in this case the osprey was slightly distracted because it was eating.

The osprey did not fly completely out of sight but perched in the highest branches of a tree on the other side of the small lake. There the osprey was able to continue its lunch without further interruptions.

osprey

osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I was thrilled when I caught an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) in action today at Lake Cook in Alexandria, Virginia. I had seen one there a little over a week ago, so I was somewhat ready when I saw one circling overhead this afternoon. It didn’t take long for the osprey to pull out a pretty good sized fish—I think the lake is stocked with trout, though I really don’t know fish well enough to know if that is the type of fish that the osprey caught.

Although I knew that the osprey would eventually dive for a fish, I was a little slow in reacting when it finally did. In particular, I had difficulty reacquiring focus after the big splash so images like the final image below are a bit soft in focus. I was fortunate that there was a lot of sunlight and I was able to get some sharper images when the osprey flew higher in the sky.

Osprey

Osprey

Osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A loud smack in the water yesterday afternoon at Lake Cook in Alexandria, Virginia caused me to turn my head and I was shocked when I saw an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) pull a fish out of the water—I though that all of the osprey had gone south for the winter months ago.

This encounter was a real test of my ability to react quickly. I had been watching some small birds in the bushes at the edge of the water when I heard the osprey’s impact with the water. My brain went into overdrive as I tried to figure out what had caused the sound, but simultaneously I was raising my camera to my eye and pointing it in the direction from which the sound had come. I didn’t have time to change the settings on the camera and was fortunate that they were more or less ok. My focus was set for single shot and not continuous focus, so many of my shots were not in focus and my shutter speed ended up at 1/500 sec, a bit too slow to freeze the action. Still, I am thrilled that I got a couple of decent shots out of the encounter.

After I posted a photo in a birding forum in Facebook, several local birders noted that osprey often return to the area in mid-February, so this osprey is only a bit of an early bird.

osprey

osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It’s hard to get an Osprey ( Pandion haliaetus) to cooperate in posing. When I asked this osprey to smile for me this past weekend at Huntley Meadows Park, this was the best look that it would give me, which looks more like a smirk than a smile to me.

Osprey

I was shooting from quite a distance away, waiting and waiting for the osprey to take flight. The osprey was in no hurry, however, and when I moved on, the osprey was still perched on the branch. I had the impression that the osprey wanted some solitude, because the osprey would periodically glare at me with this look, which suggested to me that my presence was not really welcome.

I am not sure how long the ospreys will remain with us. I have seen them off and on throughout the summer, but have never spotted a nest in the park. As we move into autumn, there will be a big turnover of birds, with some migrating south and others arriving to winter with us in Northern Virginia. Readers will probably notice too a changeover in the content of the blog postings, with fewer insects and more birds.

Osprey

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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How quickly can you change gears when a new subject unexpectedly presents itself? Can you make the necessary physical and mental adjustments to take advantage of a fleeting moment?

This past weekend I made another trip to Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge at nearby Fort Belvoir, Virginia to search for dragonflies and damselflies. I didn’t see all that many dragonflies, but there seemed to be a lot of damselflies. I focused my attention and my camera on these tiny beauties, attempting to get close enough to fill as much of the frame as I could with them.

As I was getting close-up shots of what I believe is a Variable Dancer damselfly (Argia fumipennis violacea), I caught sight of some motion out of the corner of my eye and turned my head to see what it was. Here’s the subject on which I was concentration before I turned my head.

Variable Dancer

Looking up into the sky, I noticed a large bird approaching. At first I thought it might only be a seagull, but decided that I should take some shots in case it turned out to be a raptor. Obviously I was not going to have time to change lenses, so I quickly checked my camera settings and pointed my macro lens up into the sky and managed to get some shots of an osprey (Pandion haliaetus) as it slowly flew over the pond.

osprey

osprey

It’s amazing for me to look at these three photos and realize they were all taken at the same location within minutes of each other with the same lens and similar settings. The osprey images were cropped quite a bit more, but the details of the bird held up pretty well.

I tend to think of myself as an opportunistic shooter and this was definitely a case when I tested my ability to react quickly to a new subject. My trusty Tamron 180mm macro lens proved to be pretty capable too. The lens can sometimes be a bit noisy and slow when focusing and it has no built-in image stabilization, but as the osprey images show, it can capture some pretty nice in-flight shots under the right conditions.

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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