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Where We Live by John Silveira and Richard Blunt. Photos and commentary from Oregon and New England.

Want to Comment on a blog post? Look for and click on the blue No Comments or # Comments at the end of each post.



Archive for the ‘Ospreys’ Category

 

Ospreys in Oregon, Part 7

Friday, August 10th, 2012

I’ve been busy with several things that have made me put off posting to this blog. Among those distractions have been taking photos. I can’t post while I’m shooting. And the thing I’m most apt to be stalking and shooting are ospreys. They are simply my favorite birds.

I never tire of photographing them, but the “premium” shots, to me, are those in which the ospreys are actively engaged in fishing. But getting good photos is part luck, part technique, a lot of gas driving from place to place looking for the little buggers, and a lot of hard work crawling over the rocks on the jetties.

The ospreys make a lot of dives and come up empty-handed on most of them. But they have the kind of persistence that pays off.

On August 2nd (which happened to be my son’s 30th birthday) I was on the mouth of the Rogue and caught this fellow in his act.  I didn’t bring the camera into position until after he hit the water, but when he emerged, both his persistence and my own paid off.

In the future I plan on running a lot of the unsuccessful dives because the birds can be really beautiful coming out of the drink with water spraying off of them.

The sequence was shot with my Canon 5D Mark III and my Canon EF 400mm f/5.6 USM.

As I’d said, I was already late getting my camera into play so this was the first shot in the burst. I didn’t yet know whether this guy had caught anything.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f/6.3     ISO 160     focal length 400mm

 

Here he is, coming out of the water.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f/6.3     ISO 160     focal length 400mm

 

I still haven’t seen if he’d caught anything and, as I said in an earlier post, ospreys can’t swim, so the have to get out fast.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f/6.3     ISO 160     focal length 400mm

 

He caught one!

Shutter speed 1/1000     f/6.3     ISO 160     focal length 400mm

 

Shutter speed 1/1000     f/6.3     ISO 160     focal length 400mm

 

He’s airborne.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f/6.3     ISO 160     focal length 400mm

 

He makes it look easy!

Shutter speed 1/1000     f/6.3     ISO 160     focal length 400mm

 

 

Ospreys in Oregon, Part 6

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

This is my sixth post about ospreys. Okay, I’m more than a little obsessed with them, but not so much that I’m wondering what they taste like.

This post will be about their nests. As you would expect, they build their nests near water where they can find fish because fish make up about 99 percent of their diet. They also build them on relatively flat surfaces where they can stack sticks whether it’s the top of a dead tree, a rocky outcropping, or even a manmade platform put in place for them.

The males build and maintain the nests and the mating pair will return to the same nest, year after year, adding to or maintaining it as needed. Their nests can often run into hundreds of pounds which they build one stick at a time.

Sometimes people (illegally) destroy their nests, other times nature does. The nests here in Oregon usually survive the six months of winter weather while the mating pairs migrate south for the winter. However, this past January, winter storms were fierce enough to bring some of them down. Undaunted, when ospreys return, they rebuild their nests on the same sites or close to them.

Some of the nests that came down here in Curry County were nests I’d photographed last year, so I got the chance to witness the progress of their reconstruction.

 

This was a nest on the south bank of the Rogue River, between the river and Jerry’s Flat Road. I’d photographed it many times during the summer of 2011, using my Canon 60D camera and EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM lens. I was lucky enough to catch this shot of one of the pair (probably the male), exactly a year ago today, when he was returning with yet another branch to add to the nest. This was one of the nests that came down during the storms of last winter.

Shutter speed 1/640     f-stop 4.5     ISO 100     focal length 200mm

 

This next photo and the remaining ones were taken with my Canon 5D Mark III camera and EF 400mm f/5.6 L USM lens.

This is what the pair came “home” to, this spring. Nothing. The storms had taken it all. (3 Apr. 2012)

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 100     focal length 400mm

 

But they began to rebuild. This was a start. (7 Apr. 2012)

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 200     focal length 400mm

 

The nest got bigger by the day. (10 Apr. 2012)

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 160     focal length 400mm

 

(11 Apr. 2012)

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 160     focal length 400mm

 

Once again, I was lucky to catch one of the pair returning with a branch to add to the nest. (13 Apr. 2012)

Shutter speed 1/640     f-stop 8     ISO 125     focal length 400mm

 

By the 19th of April, it must have been looking pretty much like home to them.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 8     ISO 200     focal length 400mm

 

This is the nest as of today, 2 July 2012. The male will still maintain it and, as long as a storm doesn’t knock it down, it’ll probably get bigger.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 10     ISO 400     focal length 400mm

 

Ospreys in Oregon, Part 5

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

In my last post, I submitted photos of an osprey that missed a catch. Later, while going through my photos, I found a sequence where an osprey caught a fish. (I’m taking about 7,000 photos a month including what I take in burst mode, so I often don’t find some of the good ones until I laboriously go through them.) This is going to be my longest post to date with at least two poor quality photos, the third and fifth in the sequence, but they show some important things. The sequence you’ll see played out in mere seconds.

When I was shooting them, I had preset the shutter speed and f-stop and, of course, this lens is a prime, so it’s a constant 400mm. But I let the camera set the ISO speed, so it’s the one variable. Also, these are all crops from larger photos.

Here goes.

Like most flying birds, ospreys fly with their legs against their bodies because it improves their aerodynamics. In the first photo, the osprey has already started its dive and its legs and talons are extended.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 100     focal length 400mm

 

The osprey is getting closer to the water, so it’s legs and talons are coming forward.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 100     focal length 400mm

 

This photo is blurry and I wouldn’t ordinarily include one like this because of that, but I want you to see that the bird’s feet have been brought forward. Ospreys go into the water talons first.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 160     focal length 400mm

 

In this photo, the osprey has plunged through the water’s surface. Part of its right wing is showing and, as you see in the next two photos, it’s becomes completely submerged. It can pull fish from as deep as three feet under water (and maybe a little bit deeper).

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 200     focal length 400mm

 

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 200     focal length 400mm

 

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 200     focal length 400mm

 

You can see one of its wings breaking the surface.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 200     focal length 400mm

 

Its head has broken back though the surface along with the tops of both wings. What you’ve got to know is that, although fish make up 99% of an osprey’s diet, unlike pelicans, ducks, geese, swans, cormorants, and many other “water birds,” they cannot swim. In fact, if an osprey’s feathers become waterlogged, they drown. So this guy has to get out of the water quickly.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 200     focal length 400mm

 

In this and the next four photos, the osprey is using its powerful wings to pull itself out of the water.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 200     focal length 400mm

 

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 200     focal length 400mm

 

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 200     focal length 400mm

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 200     focal length 400mm

 

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 160     focal length 400mm

 

I’ve read that ospreys are successful on less than 25 percent of their dives and, from what I’ve seen, it’s no doubt true. But in this and the remaining photos, as the osprey breaks clear of the water, you can see it’s got a fish in its talons.

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 160     focal length 400mm

 

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 160     focal length 400mm

 

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 160     focal length 400mm

 

Shutter speed 1/1000     f-stop 5.6     ISO 160     focal length 400mm

 
 


 
 

 
 
 
 
 
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