Readers’ wildlife photos

June 1, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today we have some lovely osprey photos from Doug Hayes of Richmond, Virginia. His captions are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

Still learning the ins and outs of the new camera. I wanted to try my hand at photographing birds in flight, so I went down to Mayo’s Bridge which connects Richmond’s downtown to the Southside. Most mornings you can see dozens of ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) fishing. In between dives, they roost in the nearby trees to eat, rest and dry out. The camera’s bird eye detection autofocus + tracking works as advertised! Once it locks on the subject (instantly), you can guarantee that your pictures will be in focus.
Scanning the river for fish. This osprey dropped down to about 30 feet or so – just within the closest focus range of the 200-600 zoom lens I was using. I actually think he was more interested in what I was doing than fishing at that moment. Keep in mind that I’m holding a nearly ten pound lens/camera combo vertically while tracking the bird which is directly overhead!
When prey is in sight, ospreys can hover for a better look, then dive, nailing their prey most of the time.
The operative word is “most” of the time. Sometimes they just get wet for their trouble. This osprey is rising from the river after an unsuccessful dive.
Circling around the river for another attempt.
Shaking off excess water.
This osprey managed to snag an American shad (Alosa sapidissima) nearly as big as it was. Believe it or not, the bird was able to fly across the river and into the trees to enjoy its feast!
Another pass over the river.
Catfish for breakfast!
This osprey managed to snag two fish with one talon!
Showing the human fisherman how it’s done.
Camera info:  Sony A1, FE 200-600 zoom lens + 1.4X teleconverter, crop sensor mode for an additional 1.5X reach (converting the 600mm maximum focal length to 1,260mm equivalent), bird eye detection autofocus with tracking, ISO 2000 – 5000, 1/2500 – 1/3200, f/9 – f/11, all shots hand held – camera body and lens image stabilization on, high speed electronic shutter (maximum burst rate 30 fps).

20 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Beautiful photos. I love ospreys; for my money, they’re much more beautiful and interesting than bald eagles (not that there’s anything wrong with bald eagles).

  2. Great photos! We also have ospreys nesting across the pond from us. I love watching them and have sometimes seen them take fish right in front of our house.

    I an pleased to say that I recognized the shad! 🙂

  3. Beautiful! Those wings are designed for heavy lifting. I know ospreys are fish specialists but do they ever take anything on land? My cats want to know. 😉

      1. My cats are fine with the osprey going after birds. Birds, fish are all food as far as they are concerned.

        More seriously, our local osprey seems to be quite afraid of cats. Every time they are around, it takes its half-eaten fish elsewhere even though it is in no danger at the top of a telephone pole. Of course, it might show different behavior if it was hungry rather than sitting down to dinner.

  4. These were excellent…like a still movie. And I’m impressed with the sharpness considering they are hand-held shots utilizing heavy equipment.

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