Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Osprey Fishing at Purgatory Creek

This summer I have spent a lot of time photographing dragonflies and butterflies which has not left me very much time for birding. Fortunately I did have a few raptor nests that I was watching so even though I did not photograph very many birds I did manage to get some good shots of eagles, peregrine falcons, merlin falcons and osprey around the nest.
The raptors that I spent the most time watching were the osprey. I was watching around a dozen osprey nests, most of them built on man-made platforms, earlier this summer. The osprey is a very interesting raptor. They are always found around water because they almost exclusively eat fish. Because of their fondness for fish they were at one time called the fishing hawk, however they are not a hawk at all. They are in a family all their own.
What makes them different then hawks, or most diurnal raptors are their remarkable feet. Osprey have the ability to shift from an anisodactyl foot pattern, like hawks, eagles and falcons have with three toes facing forward and only the hallux facing behind, to a zygodactyl pattern, with two toes facing forward and two facing behind. Like most owls the joint of one of their toes is flexible allowing for them to shift their toe configuration depending on need, as an example anisodactyl while in flight and zygodactyl when they need extra grip to hold on to a slippery fish. This osprey was fishing, eagle style, out at Purgatory Creek in June. Osprey will also fish by diving down into the water from about 50 feet in the air. Unlike an eagle they will submerge themselves up to a couple of feet below the surface in search of a fish.

13 comments:

Carolyn Ford said...

Very interesting about the Osprey's feet...and, you provided a very excellent illustration too. Thank you!

hobbyentusiast said...

WOW..thats a nice one.

Judy said...

I like the reflections in the water, with the osprey so close to the water!

Birgitta "foto CHIP" said...

Wow - it is so great and I can imagine the power of the wings :)

http://foto.rudenius.se/post/2010/08/24/Watery-Wednesday.aspx

2sweetnsaxy said...

Oh, my! These are wonderful! I'm jealous! :-)

Arija said...

Great captures but the poor thing was left empty footed.

caite said...

amazing how they can do that.
usually.
fantastic captures.

GrammyMouseTails said...

you are able to "catch" the most interesting birds! thanks for the info on the osprey! very interesting. I have birds on water too! tho not as beautiful as yours.

imaginationlane said...

Stunning photos! I'm not familiar with the osprey, so I loved getting a close-up view and a bit of information. Thanks for that!

Lynette

Ruth said...

Whoa! Those are great captures! Powerful yet graceful.

NatureFootstep said...

I can only say WOW. Never seen photos like this before. Great stuff.

Manang Kim said...

I always wonder how they spot the fish under the water. They might have a good eyes sight huh! Happy Wednesday!
Blue water

Susan said...

Your photos are so much more professional than mine! But we're on the same "wave" length so to speak...
http://networkedblogs.com/71Nx5