Thursday, May 14, 2009

Osprey entourage

Ospreys abound in South Texas, where I recently spent some quality birding time. It's no great shakes to glance over and see one sitting on a snag or a bouy, doing what Osprey do - catch fish, or think about catching fish. They are quite adept at angling, much better than many humanoid fisher-people.

While at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, I noticed the bird above winging by closely, bullhead firmly snared in its talons. As an aside, note how the fish is held head into the wind. Osprey always hold their prey that way when airborn; better aerodynamics, you know.

Anyway, my camera was handy, so I grabbed a shot of the fish hawk with its piscine prey.

The Osprey didn''t go far before alighting on a box, like a king with its scaly subject. And lo and behold, it was attended by some subjects. These feathered serfs were undoubtedly unwelcome, but the beggars made for an entertaining show.

To the left we have two Laughing Gulls in summer finery, heads blackened as if dunked in paint. This is the abundant gull of the area, and they are consumate omnivores, eating whatever comes their way and can't eat them first.

Skulking around the Osprey's feet are two Ruddy Turnstones, invading his space in a big way. These odd sandpipers are also amazingly catholic in their dietary preferences for a shorebird, and opportunistically grab nearly any edible bit. There is a gruesome photo that I have heard about, featuring a mob of turnstones busily clambering over a body that washed ashore somewhere, pecking away like little parti-colored ghouls.

I watched this crew for a while, and wherever the Osprey went, so followed his entourage.

Poor Osprey. He does all the work, and the avian scrounges try to steal his hard-won bounty.


Jenn Jilks said...

Nice shot!

Wil said...

Very interesting set of followers he has. Thanks for sharing these observations.

Kathie Brown said...

Well, he flies like a king so I suppose he deserves an entourage. Good thing he can't command "off with their heads!" which I am sure he would like to do! Thanks for leading our nature walk at New River. I enjoyed your enthusiasm!

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