As I do every year, I sit down and pick my personal ‘top 25’ of each of my photo subjects from my previous photo year (Oct – Sept). For the first of these, let’s start with raptors – falcons, hawks and eagles. These impressive masters of the sky oftentimes donate my photography and it is easy to see why.
I dunno. I would kind of have a hard time eating a meal that was looking back at me. 😉
Going back to May at Colorado’s St Vrain State Park for this image. We were on our first RV trip of the season, just sticking close to home and shaking off the cobwebs after a long winter’s slumber. The osprey had arrived for the season so, naturally, they were my primary photo subject.
As we sat around enjoying an adult beverage in the evening, I didn’t have to go far as this pretty lady brought her dinner right to a tree behind our rig. She didn’t mind me sticking a camera in her face although another osprey did pester her to share the meal.
Sorry for being a bit sporadic with postings lately. I seem to have been burning the proverbial candle at both ends lately and something had to give. Thankfully, nothing major or dramatic, I have just had a lot going on beyond photography that has occupied my time. Heck, I even took an entire weekend off of taking any photo outings and I can’t even remember when that last happened! LOL! Things are settling down now and I hope to get back in the game with my usual daily postings.
This capture was taken this past weekend on a camping trip, one of the last of the season. The male osprey was hanging out in a nice spot with those beautiful, blue Colorado skies behind it. It gave itself a nice shake making for a fun picture. Very soon he will be heading south for the winter, something I wish I could do!
Western kingbirds are known to be bullies. I have seen them attack raptors many times their size, including bald eagles. This past June, I was photographing an osprey nest and as one of them circled around, a kingbird came out of nowhere. The little yellow and gray bird was less than pleased that the raptor was near its territory and made sure to give the osprey an escort away. It happened so fast it caught me off guard and I only got two shots of the action but it was fun to see.
Harkening back to the beginning of May and our first camping trip of the season. This beautiful osprey paid a visit to a tree behind our campsite providing a convenient photo opportunity. It was actually hassling a second, nearby osprey that had a fish but was refusing to share. After a while, it gave up and took flight, giving me a cool glance through its wingtip feathers.
Most of the time, osprey opt for a vertical, diving attack when fishing. On this particular occasion, this osprey opted for a more horizontal approach. Its speed was still absolutely incredible as it descended toward the water and as it neared its target, it threw its talons forward and prepared to make the catch. Fun stuff to see and for the osprey, it ended up being a successful strategy as it did indeed get its breakfast.
I shared a similar shot a couple of weeks ago with a different bird. Soon after that one was taken, this beautiful osprey flew through the same area making for a cool, pretty capture. Osprey come to Colorado in the spring for mating season and by now, most will have eggs that have hatched and growing little ones in the nest.
Following its impressive dive from on high, this osprey emerged from the water showing off the fruits of its labor – a nice sized trout. It is always impressive to see these guys fish and it is amazing how in a matter of seconds they go from flying above to plunging into the water to flying out with a meal.
Focus! If you’ve never seen an osprey fish, it is hard to appreciate the absolutely relentlessness, grace, aggression and power with which they do it. Plunging from on high, sometimes hitting up to 80 mph during the dive, just as they are about to hit the water they fold back their wings, extend their talons and in an instant catch their prey.
To capture that action at the penultimate moment is an extreme challenge for a photographer as it happens so very fast. I’ve shot thousands upon thousands of images of these awesome birds of prey and you could count on one hand the number of times I ‘got the shot.’
This one, taken this past Sunday, is probably the best of the few and one which I am immensely proud of. It definitely made for a fantastic way to cap off our first camping trip of the season.
Beautiful and yet vicious, whether a falcon, hawk or eagle, raptors are amazing creatures and the kings and queens of the skies. I don’t know how many different species of them I have photographed but there have been quite a few from North America’s smallest falcon, the American kestrel, to one of its biggest raptors, the gorgeous golden eagle.