Canon 5D MK4, F/5, 100-400mm @400mm, 1/1000 sec, ISO 640
In this Covid-19 world of 2020, instead of a June visit to the magnificent redwoods of northern California, the awesome coastline of Oregon, and the spectacular interior waterfalls also in Oregon, I did enjoy keeping a regular, first-light viewing of an osprey nest only a few kilometers away from our house, in east end Belleville, Ontario.
In early June, it was same-old-same-old waiting for the offspring to appear. My usual routine found one adult bird sitting in the nest and the other in a nearby dead tree, always with a clear view of the nest. The nest was built on a pre-made box on a telephone-like pole beside a small Ontario highway on the east side of our city. There is a secondary road off the small highway that rises to a third of the height of the nest; this is where I situated myself and my Canon 5D Mark IV & Canon EF 100-400 lens.
After many weeks of waiting, the heads of the baby osprey appeared and I became eager for my next visits. Although I was certainly looking forward to the expected arrival of the delivered fish breakfast, which I did see, I was more astonished by the parent’s efforts to protect the offspring from the hot July sun.
It was also really fascinating to watch the ospreys repair the nest by breaking branches and bringing them back; then, flying in with wet dirt for patching. I would have missed this, if I was on the west coast this summer!
It was with heartfelt joy when I arrived to witness, what I believe to be, the first flight of one of the two offspring. How time flies! One minute they are little heads bobbing above the nest and the next they are sitting on (and pooping over) the edge. This first flight for the first of two birds didn’t go far, only a couple of poles and tree stops before returning to the nest; regrettably, the flight path tended away from me which was very disappointing. Upon its return to the nest, however, the sibling was obviously eager to congratulate and to get some pointers for how to handle a safe solo flight from the nest. This was also very interesting to witness!
When I arrived two days later, both offspring had fledged. Expecting the flight path to be away rather than toward, I was stunned when such a recent flyer headed straight toward me. I had it locked in my viewfinder, and I was fully expecting it to fly overhead and keep going but, much to my surprise, it landed on top of a rather shortened power pole only several feet away; even with a gimbal on my tripod, it was difficult to spin around and get the bird framed. I did manage to get this one shot before I realized the magnitude of what was happening here! I looked away from the viewfinder to have a close encounter with the intense stare of this, perhaps curious, baby osprey. What a moment … and within another moment, it had taken flight back to the safety of the nest.
The featured photograph is an image I will remember forever, and it makes being homebound during the spring & summer of 2020 quite worthwhile!
Below is one of the two young ospreys in flight! (I now know orange eyes are young and yellow are adults )