Nesting

December through February is Florida Osprey nesting season.

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“Florida ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) commonly nest on power poles, communication towers, water navigation devices, lighting fixtures, outdoor billboards and other man-made structures as well as in decaying or dead trees.” This quote from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission web site is a fitting introduction. For this, the fourth post of this series (Click me for the first post, “Endless Searching“), I explore images of Osprey nesting behavior.

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“Other Man-Made Structures”

Early morning winter Cocoa Beach walks offer a new experience with each dawn be it a change in wind, light, or beach-combing offerings. This looming crane was a consistent specter the entire month, poised over a downtown parking garage under construction.

Click any photograph for a larger view.
On the Lookout

Distant Figures

Each winter morning January 2019 I left our ocean side condo to walk the beach, taking equipment according to a whim. For this series I used the Sony Alpha 700 with a variable “Zoom” lens. In this next shot the focal length was set to maximum.

Searching the internet (“Florida Osprey behavior”), a link from http://www.naturesacademy.org states, in Florida, Osprey nesting season is December through February. The following series of photographs clearly show an Osprey with nesting material. The header image for this post clearly shows the markings of the individual holding a large branch.

The second individual is close to the same size, it is a reasonable conclusion the two are flying together. The series was taken in a 33 second time span.

The two were flying around the crane and it is beyond imagination they’d be successful building on an actively used crane. Would construction come to a halt until the nest was abandoned? I wonder.

In following days there were no signs of nesting behavior on the crane.

Copyright 2019, Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Shoulder to Shoulder

Snatch and Grab Shopper

“They walk among us” can evoke horror, still it is a fitting description for the many species successful in an ecological niche occupied by humans. This is the third post of a series featuring the Osprey of Cocoa Beach, Florida. The first post is “Endless Searching,” In this post we follow a householder on a shopping expedition.

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Observation

Search internet references on Florida Osprey you find there is a mixture of year-round residents and migrants passing through spring/fall to points farther north. This being January, my brilliant conclusion is these are residents of Cocoa Beach, maintaining nests. My next post will have more on this.

Each winter morning January 2019 I left our ocean side condo to walk the beach, taking equipment according to a whim. For this series I used the Sony Alpha 700 with a variable lens. In this first shot, the watchful pose of the hunting Osprey is apparent, long glide with head slightly down.

Click any photograph for a larger view.
On the Lookout

Dive!!

Once these hawks entered my dim awareness and their habits understood, with a lot of luck I was able to click the button at the right time. You can see in the previous post, “Fishing Creatures,” how little time elapsed during a dive, the split second opportunity seen in the following photograph.

Committed

Wow, that is impact. The bird is poised to grab one fish, spotted under the water 50+ feet away, talons extended.

Into the Drink

Success rate? Those days in January, if the Osprey hit the water more than 50% of the time it flew away with a fish.

Our seven year old grandson is an enthusiastic fisherman and might be able to identify this catch. In the distance, on the horizon is Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, the lighthouse and space launch towers .

An image of Osprey / Human closeness. The long lens tends to bring objects closer together, the Osprey is far away from the early morning walkers.

A reader, “ekurie”, in observing Ospreys noticed the catch is oriented to aerodynamic, placed head first toward the direction of flight. The hawk is using the evolutionary adaptations of the fish, to reduce drag in the water, to flying through the air.

This snatch and grab shopper is headed straight home to a nest beyond the shore front condos.

A Well Deserved Meal.
Copyright 2019, Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Fishing Creatures

Dives of 80 MPH with Precision Control

Visiting a friend’s Cayuga Lake house yesterday I spotted the now familiar behavior of the Osprey, searching for a catch over a deep freshwater lake. This is the second post of a series featuring these successful hawks. The first post was “Endless Searching, with the Osprey above the Atlantic Ocean” For this post we return to Florida’s Atlantic coast.

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Human Vs. Avian

Here is a team of fishermen landing a catch, employing a full kit of gear. You will have a better viewing experience by clicking on the title of the embedded YouTube, then click on the Full Screen icon at the lower right.



You will have a better viewing experience by clicking on the title of the embedded YouTube, then click on the Full Screen icon at the lower right.



Click any photograph for a larger view.

Compare the equipment to the Osprey, it has all it needs with nothing extra and a bit left to chance. The hawk was brought close with a combination of a handheld Canon EOS -1Ds Mark III with Canon’s EF 70-300 mm f/4-5.6L USM lens. Even with the cooperative hunting advantage human surf fishing is must less efficient than the Osprey dive, snatch, fly away.

A Miss and A Hit

An Osprey can achieve 80 MPH dives only to pull out within inches of the ocean surface. This video starts with the dive, it is so fast you many need two or three views to appreciate it. The dive is followed for an extended take of the bird flying away, continuing to stalk prey, and ends with a line of pelicans skimming the waves.

You will have a better viewing experience by clicking on the title of the embedded YouTube, then click on the Full Screen icon at the lower right.

For the following video the hawk is seen prepare for a dive, streak down into the surf, fly away toward the next, talons around the catch. There is the fascinating behavior of shaking mid-flight to dry off.



You will have a better viewing experience by clicking on the title of the embedded YouTube, then click on the Full Screen icon at the lower right.



All three videos are from my phone. Apple IPhone 8 fits in my pocket, always handy when needed. It has the shortcoming of a difficult finger maneuver to zoom in. I am never fast enough to capture the upcoming action and zoom. Later posts will feature a series of photographs from the Canon with more resolution.

Copyright 2019, Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved