Thursday, May 11, 2017

Kingdom of the Osprey.

I have never seen more ospreys in a more compact area than I did at the Gulf Shores National Seashore. There were enormous osprey nests all around, and each nest was inhabited by an osprey couple. Since they were stationary taking care of newly laid eggs (I never saw any hatchlings, but I suppose they could already have emerged), it was easy to photograph mated pairs of the birds.

Nothing hit home to me more that I need a better camera and finer lenses than when I got back to my Casita travel trailer to look at the photos I had taken. Only to find that hours exploring around the freshwater marsh and lurking near osprey nests had netted me about 50 ruined photos. The filter I had used for my telephoto lens obviously was not a good match and the photos were all ruined. Slightly blurred. I lost dozens of wonderful action shots.

I remedied this by removing and disposing of the faulty filter, but the damage was done. Wasted moments lost to sub-standard camera equipment. Alas.

I went back out on subsequent days, but I never did get those kinds of photos again. I got some decent ones, but not the shots of action and interaction between the mated ospreys. As soon as I can afford the budget for a camera/lens upgrade I will do that. For now, I'll have to be extremely careful of what I am doing with the equipment that I do have and to make sure that the images are as clear as possible.

Because of the ecosystem where we camped, I got to see ospreys actively hunting. Carole and I actually saw an osprey descend to catch and kill a Hispid rat. To that point I had only seen them bringing in fish. But we sat and watched as a big osprey suddenly altered his flight and hit the ground to grab the small rodent and return to the air. An opportunistic moment and I didn't even have my camera ready.

I only post this as a cautionary lesson. This would have been a kickass photo if only I'd realized the filter I had applied does not work with this lens. I screwed up well over fifty otherwise wonderful photographs because of this. Damn.
There was a specific nest I visited a lot because there was easy access through the sawgrass. The male seemed okay with it, but the mama osprey finally had enough of my shit. This is the photo I took just before she took wing to give me an earful and--I am convinced--looked for an opportunity to dive-bomb or claw my ass. I beat feet and gave her some solitude.
Nice trail and boardwalk through the sawgrass.
Damn it! Not you again?!!
Their nests are often enormous. I've heard they keep adding to them year after year.

The sawgrass ecosystem in which most of the nests are located.

I am pretty sure that at this precise second, she was altering her flightpath and considering diving down and taking a piece of me back up with her. I think she was carefully gauging the distance and my capacity to do more than scream in terror. Sorry for the blurry photo, but...well...there you are.

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