Osprey waiting game and the surprise beaver

April 28, 2010

Tuesday the weather was a little chilly, but otherwise great in Alexandria. With sore legs from earlier outings, I decided it would be better to head out anyway and try to strengthen my muscles at Huntley Meadows.

The foot traffic was heavier than last time (easy to beat when that number was zero) but I was still able to have some quality shooting time.

My main shooting emphasis revolved around an Osprey on the hunt and a fearless beaver.

Other photographers can sometimes help you out, as was the case with the Osprey. Noticing a man staring in a consistent direction with a 200mm lens, I followed his line of sight and saw the bird. It was still on the other side of the water, but as I waited it dove, grabbed a meal and circled the area several times.

The fun part of knowing the location was that I knew exactly where it was going to eat. There are several tall dead trees in the water off of the informal trail at the back of the park where I’ve seen them eat in the past. As quickly and quietly as I was able, I made my way back to the site and found him perched with his prize.

I wasn’t satisfied with my initial location and apparently neither was the bird, as it took off. That gave me a few minutes to scout for a better location and conceal my position as best as I was able.

Suddenly I began hearing a series of calls and found two Ospreys sweeping overhead. For such a feared fish hunter, Ospreys have a very non-menacing call (a series of chips – hear them here)

Settled on the ground, braced against a tree, I waited for its return. Minutes later one of them landed and began to eat. My position worked out well and I got some decent shots. It didn’t last long though as an older gentleman began stomping down the path toward me while staring up at the bird.

Understandably spooked, it took off again.

I did a slow scan of the informal trail area and made my way back to the boardwalk, photographing several birds on their fly-bys. Several small birds are out in large numbers, acting as if they are mini-stunt pilots by changing directions over and over and divebombing close to the water. I tried for a while and failed to capture it. Even my continuous focus setting couldn’t keep up with them on my D200.

Along the trail were a number of geese. The thing I like about the photo below is how you can clearly see the ridges of the goose beak. Although they don’t have true teeth, you can imagine it would sting a little to get a good bite from one.

Near the main observation area on the water, I found my next main subject – the beaver. Although there were a few muskrats around too, they weren’t nearly as cooperative as this large fellow.

For the rest of my time in the park I watched him munch on grass, sticks and roots and search the area for more. The grinding sound as they go at larger wooden material is definitely interesting. I wonder though if he does that to get any nutrition or solely out of instinct to keep his teeth length in check.

Just as the light was fading, the beaver grew tired of being watched and slipped off into the distance.

4 Responses to “Osprey waiting game and the surprise beaver”

  1. Renee Says:

    Great shots!

  2. […] mentioned before that there are small birds that dart around near the water. For the past few visits I’ve made an effort to at least grab a frame or two of them. For the […]

  3. […] sightings from the day included numerous frogs and toads, but none of the typical beavers or […]

  4. […] Osprey has been missing from the park for a while, but I was able to find a heron where the Osprey used to […]

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