Readers’ wildlife photos

July 30, 2021 • 8:00 am

Today’s photographer is Doug Hayes of Richmond, Virginia, but instead of his “Breakfast Crew” series we see the (de)predation of an osprey.

Doug’s commentary is indented; click on the photos to enlarge them.

Some shots from one of my osprey (Pandion haliaetus) photography trips to Mayo’s Bridge in Richmond, Virginia. This is a great spot to photograph ospreys, cormorants and herons, especially during an American shad (Alosa sapidissima) run when the fish migrate from the ocean to freshwater rivers and streams to spawn, running a gauntlet of ospreys, eagles and other predators. Shad that survive the perilous journey then return to the ocean.

I saw this bird hit the water pretty hard. When it came up, it just floated for a while instead of immediately taking off with a fish or circling for another try. I thought maybe that it had been stunned or injured, as it was actually drifting downstream.

Then it started to flap its wings, struggling to get airborne.

After a few seconds, I realized what the problem was: the osprey had snagged a large fish that was not having having any part of becoming breakfast. It was actually pulling the osprey back to the water!

“This is a revolting development!”

Round one goes to the fish! The osprey looks a bit embarrassed here.

The osprey puts its back into it and slowly starts to pull the fish from the water.

Almost airborne.

“Feet don’t fail me now!”

“Just a couple more wing flaps and I’m home free.”

Shad for breakfast!

Camera info:  Sony A1 body set to crop sensor, bird eye autofocus and wide autofocus area + tracking mode, Sony FE 200-600 zoom lens plus 1.4X teleconverter, 1/4000 sec, ISO 4000, f/11, hand held.

15 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Among the best of WEIT’s reader’s photos, if for nothing else but the drama.

    I have to say, as magnificent as ospreys are, I’ve always been a bit disappointed by their voice. One expects a great “YAAAWWK” but instead you get Tweety bird. It’s kind of like a Mike Tyson interview, you know? But this sequence shows them in all their glory. Thanks.

    1. Haha – so true. An osprey will fly over my place from the lake, with a wingspan of 5 feet, and let out a little “cheep-cheep” instead of the expected “thrack!” It always makes me laugh. Love watching them catch fish though. Magnificent birds. Thanks for this series of photos. Gorgeous.

  2. Wonderful sequence of events! I was on both sides! Thank you for posting this slice of life.

  3. Oh my gosh, the suspense, fantastic shots Doug.
    The tussle was undecided until that last picture, “airborne finally”!

  4. Great sequence of photos! Thanks so much. And in regard to earlier comments about the less than impressive vocalizations of osprey, Bald Eagles don’t produce anything that seems worthy of their size and majesty either. Perhaps that’s why it is common to see a video of an eagle with Red-tailed Hawk vocalizations inserted into the soundtrack.

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