Saturday, June 18, 2016

My Love Affair (with Osprey)

Osprey - Photo courtesy of NASA (public domain)
I am having a love affair. 
It began when I moved to Maryland a decade ago. There are things that I dislike about Maryland - the congested traffic being the top item. And I can't wait to retire to a remote country setting far from here. But while planning my retirement, I am already mourning the loss of some of the flora and fauna I've become accustomed to here. I have had a 10 year love affair with Osprey and I have a feeling that I'll have to break it off when I retire to my West Virginia place. And I will miss seeing these spectacular birds.

Birds Near Baltimore

Osprey are plentiful here.  The Chesapeake Bay, tidal marshes, and rivers are the sort of environment they thrive in. I have spent many days at local beaches laying on my back, watching the Osprey fly overhead. Always hoping they will dive for a fish near me.  I've become familiar enough with them that I can hear their little chirp as they fly overhead - almost as though they are reminding me to look up.

I have become familiar with spotting their nests on platforms. And sometimes on power line poles. I have been lucky enough to watch an Osprey carry a large fish to a tree and perch there with it's lunch.

I love to watch them dive for fish and always hope they've caught one.  I know they have been unsuccessful when they fly back into the air and vigorously shake the water off.

Osprey in West Virginia?

I have not yet spotted an Osprey from my little piece of land in West Virginia. I was hopeful as there are bald eagles in the area. And a river nearby.  But so far, I have not yet seen or heard an Osprey.

This morning, after making an intentional visit to an area near an Osprey nest, I returned home to look on the eBird Range map.  No. It does not appear that there are many Osprey near my planned retirement home.  Bummer.

I will continue to visit areas where I can watch Osprey fly, nest, and fish as often as possible, while I am still their neighbor. 

Today's Osprey Adventure

This morning I wandered down to a familiar platform. I was told by a friend that Osprey are nesting there this year.  I planned on going down just after sunrise and watching them from a very small beach area.  Turns out I was a bit later than I wanted to be. The sun was higher in the morning sky than I had planned on. Also, as it turns out, it was high tide. So the river was high and I could not get to the spot I had planned on - unless I waded in knee-deep brackish water. And I just wasn't prepared for that this morning.  I have to also mention that this particular beach is the spot where I watched a huge copperhead snake eating a fish.  Since that time, I have trouble bringing myself to wade at this spot. 

So I sat on the trail and watched. She flew overhead, scolding me and watching me.  I moved as little as possible, trying to snap a few photos.  I did not stay long since my location seemed to irritate her. 

You can be sure that I'll sneak off and visit her as often as possible. 

I do not have the camera equipment that I need for detailed photos or videos.  Fortunately, many other people do. And we have amazing videos like this at our fingertips:

More Information

I know very little factual information about Osprey, or birds in general. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology provides All About Birds online bird guide. This is a very helpful resource. It includes identification, history, sounds, and videos of birds. This site has been very helpful with identifying birds - something I'm not very good at. Thank you to my daughter-in-law for the tip. 

The Chesapeake Conservancy osprey cam. A view of a nest above water.


  1. Wow, I think your osprey photos are beautiful! I've never experienced an osprey, not sure I've ever seen one, even when I lived in Virginia Beach. I can see why you're smitten. What beautiful birds!

  2. I've only seen osprey once, when we took a white water raft trip on the Rogue River in Oregon. It was a wonderful experience. Our local river only has water a few wet months of the year -- if that. You are fortunate to be so close to this nest that you can watch it.

  3. You might like Deb Hirt

  4. Love your Osprey photos. What a delightful bird to watch.

  5. I love catching memories in photos and that is exactly what you have done. I was thinking as I read, right now you visit your shack when you can get away for a few days. I bet when you retire and move to the shack, you will visit your Osprey when you can get away for a few days.

    Oh, and I wouldn't wade in brackish water either, especially where poisonous snakes live. I believe in living for the chance to photograph another day.