Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Heron and the Osprey

A few weeks ago on the way home from the Grabnds I stopped at a heron rookery outside of Duluth.  My friend Travis and I were shooting Auroras and since it's summertime it doesn't really get dark until around 10:30-11:00pm.  To make the most of the time we shot straight until 3:30am when the sky started to brighten again marking the end of a very short night.  It was 4:00am when I hit the sack for what would be about 2 hrs of sleep.

I'd visited this rookery a few weeks before in the late afternoon on my way to Grand Portage.  The sky was overcast and the light really crappy so I didn't walk away with anything worthwhile.  I was determined, however, to shoot there in the morning and this morning turned out to be the one.  To catch the morning sun I need to drive the 2 hrs before it got to late so had to rise at 6:00am and hit the road.

It was rather quiet at the rookery.  I was hoping to get adults flying in to feed the young but it just wasn't happening.  I waited and waited, good thing I'm patient, when all of a sudden there was some activity to my left.  Among the herons was an osprey nest and for some reason one of the adult osprey took some interest in the closest heron nest.  It stated dive bombing the two herons, an adult and a youngster.  It must have dive bombed the nest a half dozen times and I was lucky to witness it and photograph it.  Following are image sequences of a couple of the ospreys passes.

the adult is actively watching the osprey

never taking its eye off the predator

 protecting its young the adult makes itself look bigger

then decides it's going to scare it away with its ferocious call

 and at the last minute ducks low

its safe now to come back up as the osprey flies off

not taking it's eye off the osprey,

its preparing for another attach

the osprey approaches again

again the adult puffs up in size

looking tall and ominous

both adult and young try to look fearsome

and again duck at the last minute

Is the osprey done yet?

not taking their eyes off the bird

it comes in again with talons outstretched

the youngster is getting a little braver and doesn't duck as far down as the parent.

The osprey wasn't done but you get the point.  Eventually the osprey returned to its nest to be with it's young.  The other adult heron showed up and soon after the first adult took off.  It didn't take long before the second adult also took off leaving the youngster by itself.  i wondered what the osprey was going to do now that the youngster was by itself.  Well the adults must have known something because the osprey left the young heron alone, well for as long as I was there.

It was a beautiful morning to sit by this pond and watch the wildlife.  It reminded me of the day last year when we spent the entire day watching Loons nesting.  It was during the drive home that the short night caught up with me.  A half hour power nap get me home safely.