WARNING: This story does not have a happy ending. :(
My son and I have been volunteering to check bluebird boxes at a local park. The furthest box is on the point in a river. There are many osprey nests along the river, but we noticed one nest that was quite accessible with a long lens. It was nesting on a sign in the river, and there was a baby in the nest:
My son and I went out to watch the nest for the take two challenge. I had tried getting an osprey flying into a nest with a fish a couple of years ago. It was a good shot, but I had always hoped to have an opportunity to do better.
We sat out for about an hour and a half and completely lucked out! One of the parents flew in with a fish! Not only that, he flew in, didn't deposit the fish, and then flew off. He did that four times before actually dropping off the fish. Here are the shots that I was able to get:
I ended up with many chigger bites, but it was worth it.
Of course, after I entered the take two challenge -- then they announced the National Geographic challenge!!
I went back out, this time staying around for about 2.5 hours. No flying fish that day, but one parent did fly in with a stick and started arranging it in the nest, I probably should have entered this one in the challenge, but I really liked the intensity of the one I did enter. This one has more action, however:
Other shots from that day:
I sprayed myself more liberally with spray, but many more chigger bites and three deer ticks.
The bug bites were keeping me awake at night, but the osprey were so incredibly fascinating, that I had to go back out again. This time I brought a queen sized sheet, laid it out on the ground, sprayed it with bug spray and set up a tripod (the other shots were hand held). It worked!!! Hardly any bug bites! (although I was only there for about an 1.5 hours this time.)
Not much activity in the nest. The other parent had already dropped off a fish, so there was feeding time. Though a branch was quite problematic.
The next day I went to the mountains for a couple of days. It was about a week before I was able to get back to the nest. I had really been looking forward to watching the baby grow up. I figured he'd need to eat more, so perhaps I could get some fishing shots, and perhaps even the fledging.
My son and I went out to the park. When we got there the sign was empty. The nest was completely gone -- not even one stick left. We stopped by the ranger station on the way out, wondering if it was a storm or human destruction. They said the people that live on this creek on the river are very respectful of the wildlife, and even the kids that boat through are very responsible. Other nests, farther out, were fine. There was a bad storm on the 4th of July, and they assume that the nest blew down.
The incredibly sad part of the story is that I don't think that there's anyway that the baby was old enough to fledge. He was still awfully little the week before, and it takes 7 to 8 weeks to fledge. I felt so incredibly bad, and I still do. I spent about about 6-8 hours watching them, and was completely fascinated. I had fallen in love with the little family and thought that I had weeks to observe and photograph. They were incredibly special. I'm sure the parents are fine, and will nest next year. But I just wanted to say RIP baby osprey.
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I can understand your sadness about the baby osprey. I have also been following a pair of nesting ospreys & have noted a web site that may interest you. Quite a few of these sturdy platforms have been built by the gov. of Ontario ( the pair that I have been watching have built their nest on one). A few years ago a pair had been nesting on a hydro pole nearby & one had been electrocuted, so a platform was built & has had Osprey's every season since! Looking at your picture of the nest on the sign makes me think that one of these platforms would be a much safer nesting site. Perhaps the rangers will be interested.
I really enjoyed looking at your beautiful photos!
Woah, how agro is that bird? Super engaging shot. Thanks to your great POV and the simple BG this image pops. It is imo a worthy shot for NG. I have one small niggle. Did you use sharpening? NG have pulled submitted work off their site if any PP other than dodge, burn, bracketed HDR, pano, are suspected. I love the shot, the timing and other elements are really well done. I'll take a flier and say vawendy?