Osprey Dive, Catch and Kill

The osprey, also known as a fish hawk, is an amazing raptor to watch and photograph. They are the only raptor that will dive underwater to catch fish. They will dive from as high as 100 feet and plunge talons first into the water at speeds of 50 mph to grab a fish. Often they will go as much as 3 feet deep to hook a fish with their talons.

I had the good fortune to find a location in Maine, where the osprey fish in a concentrated area on the St. George river, within photographic range. A fish weir in Warren, Maine creates a “traffic jam” as millions of alewife (herring) swim upstream to spawn in Lake Saint George. The “jam” is so thick with fish that it turns the river to a shade of black. The osprey and seagulls have a feeding frenzy.

While looking at the images on my camera, I was startled by a loud splash 50 feet from where I was standing on the river’s edge. An osprey dove right in front of me. Had I been paying attention, instead of reviewing images, I may have had that “killer” shot. But I did get a few good images. Some of the best ones are in the sequence below, which hopefully tell the story:

Hovering - Spotting the Fish

Hovering – Spotting the Fish

Dive

Dive

Plunge

Plunge

The osprey has a third eyelid called the nictitating membrane that covers and protects the eye as it plunges into the water. It is transparent and can be seen in the image above.

Splash Down

Splash Down

Emerging

Emerging

Watching an osprey emerge from under the water surface, at first using its wings as paddles, then with enough momentum to use them to get lift, dragging a fish along the surface and finally into the air, is like experiencing the poetry of nature.

Got Fish?

Got Fish?

Getting Lift

Getting Lift

Gaining Momentum

Gaining Momentum

Caught One!

Caught One!

Heavy Lifting

Heavy Lifting

Full Payload

Full Payload

Up Up and Away

Up Up and Away

Delivery to Nest

Delivery to Nest

The osprey will orient the fish so that it aligns with the slipstream to reduce drag. Next stop is usually to a tree or to the nest where it is consumed.

Hope that you enjoy.

Rich

 

~ by richardseeley on June 1, 2015.

11 Responses to “Osprey Dive, Catch and Kill”

  1. Fantastic! Ospreys are amazing. We look forward to seeing “our” ospreys next week — but surely without getting such spectacular photos!!

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  2. Great shots!! Did your heart rate have a chance to soar too?

    Attached was taken in May, northern CA. My 1956 Austin Healey 100M, Cindy and I were on a 1000 mile car tour called the CA Mille. Old guys with sports old cars having a blast.

    Ciao Ted

    >

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  3. Rich,Very nice photo sequence of the Osprey.Me, I’d rather fish with a rod and reel.Rod

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  4. That was an awesome sequence!!!! just magnificent…

    will you be joining us today? hope so. xo n

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  5. love the whole series, but the last one with the osprey looking right at you is amazing! Great capture!!

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  6. Really enjoyed the photos, and story to go along with them. Well done!

    On another note, the eaglets have grown exponentially in the last couple of weeks. Eagles and osprey sure love fresh fish. Great to watch these raptors hunt.

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  7. Great photos, interesting information!

    Date: Mon, 1 Jun 2015 15:36:22 +0000 To: dsgilb@msn.com

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  8. Rich- Great series! Lucky you had a canon 10 fps in your hands and good CF cards!

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  9. Thank you for all of the great comments. The Canon 7D Mark 2, Canon 100-400 Mark 2 lens and 1.4x teleconverter made it all possible with a little bit of luck.

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  10. Great pics I am really jealous. When ever I travel I try to get action shots like these the sequence was fabulous
    Benjie

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  11. […] Osprey Dive Catch and Kill […]

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