The Osprey represents one of those rare conservation stories that has a happy ending. After taking a hit from the effects of DDT, their numbers dropped in Texas and other parts of the United States of America from the 1950s to the 1970s.
Since DDT was banned, however, they and other birds of prey have rebounded in a marvelous manner. In fact, nowadays, you would be hard pressed not to see an Osprey or two or even three on any visit to the gulf coast. I couldn’t be happier with that situation because I always enjoy taking pictures of those charismatic fish-eating seahawks.
I recently found myself in the perfect lighting situation to capture several good images of an Osprey in action on the gulf coast of Texas.
With long, lazy flaps of its wings, this Osprey flew right in to my field of view. Since the distance and lighting were ideal for taking its picture, I started snapping away.
When it looked as if it may have spotted a fish, I kept my camera focused on the bird and wished it success.
Suddenly, the bird wheeled, plunged down to the water and thrust its long, talon-tipped legs beneath the surface. The image above shows how truly long the legs of the Osprey are!
It came up with a fish in its talons and flapped over to the shore for a moment before taking to the air once more. Although Ospreys can catch fish quite a ways offshore, it seems like they stick to shallow costal waters. I suspect that it might be easier for them to catch fish that find themselves in water less than a foot deep as was the case with this unlucky catfish.
After getting a firm grasp on its slippery catch, the Osprey quickly flew off to a more sheltered spot to eat its lunch before it could be harrassed by Magnificent Frigatebirds and gulls. Those scavengers and Bald Eagles do their best to steal fish from Ospreys and sometimes succeed even though tiny hook-like bumps on its feet are ideal for holding onto its slippery prey.
No matter when ou go birding in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, you always see something good!