Sunday, January 19, 2014


I had a wonderful osprey sighting recently on a work trip to Florida. I took off from a seminar in Orlando early one afternoon and drove out to Cape Canaveral, off the Atlantic Coast, and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge which abuts the Kennedy Space Center (in fact, several launch sites from within the KSC were visible and the shuttle landing runway was very close, although I could not see it). While driving down the Bio Lab Road I saw an osprey perched on a dead tree branch clutching and eating a fish. I stopped and took more than 100 pictures from several different angles over the course of about 15 minutes. It was not until I shifted my position for the second time that I discovered a companion osprey perched in the same dead tree, apparently uninterested in the fish.  
An osprey with a fish on Cape Canaveral, Florida at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.
From a different angle. No wonder they are also called fish hawks and fish eagles.
Ruffled upper feathers reveal the white feathers on the lower body.
From a different angle.
Companion osprey in the same tree that I did not see initially.
I have seen ospreys, also known as fish eagles and fish hawks, several times, but have never photographed one. I recall seeing my first osprey in Wyoming when our kids were young, flying from a nest perched on a man-made platform. What a thrill. At that time, ospreys were just coming back from near extinction from DDT usage. My other significant osprey sighting was while camped next to Thousand Island Lake in the Sierras several years ago. We could see an osprey flying high overhead and then dive bombing for fish in the lake. 

After my seminar in Orlando I drove down to Fort Myers on the Gulf Coast and over a causeway to Sanibel Island and the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. While there I saw several ospreys flying, including one with a fish in its claws, and a nest with a young osprey in it.  
Osprey flying over Sanibel Island, Florida
Osprey nest on Sanibel Island
One of the good things our government has done in my lifetime is to be proactive in banning many harmful pesticides and to work to restore endangered species, including the osprey.