birds of prey

More From the Female Osprey

On Sunday morning our workshop group got the opportunity to photograph both mom and dad osprey eating a fish.  

Dad brought his fish to the nest to eat.  Mom was none too happy about this.  She screamed and squawked at him the entire time he ate, until he finally left the nest with the fish.  I think she was more upset that he brought the fish to the nest than she was that he wasn't sharing.  At one point while dad was eating at the nest, a mighty brave, little kestrel came swooping in trying to steal some of dad's meal.

After dad left the nest, mom went out and got a fish of her own.  She began eating it within the cover of some trees instead of at the nest.  This worked out great for the group.  The trees were much lower to the ground allowing a much better perspective for photographing her.

Aperture-priority, 1/1,600 sec, f/8, ISO 800, Compensation: +1 2/3, 600 mm

It was very cloudy and the light was not great, so I had to increase my exposure compensation for this by 1 2/3 rds.  Shooting a dark subject on a bright background always throws your camera meter into fits, so you need to adjust your settings to compensate for this.  

This image was made with my Nikon D500 and Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Lens mounted onto my Sirui P-324S monopod and L-20S Monopod Head.

Watching an Eagle Hunt

So, if you follow my teaching partner, David Akoubian's, blog he told a story about us getting to watch something pretty amazing one afternoon when we were in Florida.

I'll try my best to summarize...

It was pretty nasty out weather wise.  We were riding along The Black Point Wildlife Drive on The Merritt Island NWR and we noticed a bunch of coots huddled up tightly as if they were on alert.  Then just a few feet from the car, a bald eagle flies right in front of us and makes a dive at the coots.  We quickly jump out of the car and grab our gear.  The wind is howling, but it is at our backs.  The eagle missed the coot initially, but he was one resilient  bird.  He pretty much hovered directly in front of our cameras.  He looked like he was flying on a treadmill.  The wind was so fierce and he was just flying and flying and going nowhere.  He was looking down at the water and every now and again he would swoop down for a closer look.  This went on for what seemed like a lifetime.  We started getting rained on, the wind was blowing the tripods, it was crazy!  Finally this eagle hits the water.  He is in the water about neck deep for probably 10 seconds, then he emerges with a dead coot.  Then he did a fly by right in front of us with the dead coot in his talons.  We never saw the coot come back up.  Best we could figure was the coot drown and the eagle got tired of waiting on him to surface, so he went and got him.  After we got back to a computer we looked at the time stamp on our images and it was over 6 minutes that we got to watch and photograph this eagle hunting, hovering and ultimately catching his prey.  

ISO 800, 600mm, F/6.3 @ 1/500th second

Hover over the image to see camera settings used.  Click the image to view it larger.

This is one of the images from that sequence.  This guy was on a mission, which he accomplished.

Image made with my Sony A77 II and Tamron 150-600mm Lens.  All mounted on a Sirui Tripod and PH-20 Gimbal Head.

Osprey Tongue

On a day in The Viera Wetlands area down in Florida we got to spend time watching a few different osprey eat fish.  

This particular osprey we watched for over an hour.  He made pretty quick work of a fish he caught and brought back to this tree.  The other osprey we had watched on previous days would fly off the tree and take a bit of a swim to clean up right after eating his fish.  We kept waiting on this guy to do the same, but he never did.  He never left at all.  We were waiting and hoping for some flight shots, but instead after he ate his fish, he kept dancing around all uneasy like.  Then he would shake and then make this posture like he was trying to cough something up.

I thought it was hilarious.  It looks to me like hes screaming at something.  Or sticking his tongue out at the fish he didn't catch.

ISO 800, 600mm, F/6.3 @ 1/1000th second

Hover over the image to see the camera settings.  Click on the image to view it larger.

This image was made using my Sony A77 II and Tamron 150-600mm Lens.  All my gear was resting on my Sirui P-324S Monopod with L-20S Monopod Head.

Osprey

Over the Memorial Day Holiday Weekend, I got an invite to go over to a lake in North Georgia to shoot some osprey that were on the nest.  It was a bit of a ride from my house, but boy I'm sure glad I went.  I ended up with some stuff I'm super happy with!

Although I left happy, it didn't start out that way.  I initially tried to shoot handheld.  The osprey were flying around so much that my arms quickly got tired.  I checked my images and the majority of them were out of focus.  I decided to salvage any part of the day I was going to have to go back to the vehicle and get the tripod, which I did.  Mounting the camera on the tripod turned out to be the deciding factor.  I started getting better shots when I could focus on the photography and not my tired arms.

ISO 800, 360mm, F/7.1 @ 1/1250th second

This image was made with my Sony Alpha 77ii, Tamron 150-600mm Lens and Vanguard Photo US Alta Pro 283CT Tripod.

I knew for the shots I was going for I needed a very high shutter speed.  I was shooting for above 1/1000th of a second.  I had to raise my ISO to 800, even though it was pretty bright.  Bumping the ISO and getting the higher shutter speed allowed me to capture this shot of the osprey landing at the nest and looking directly at me.  I was very pleased with this image.