Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Osprey seizes fish, Black Terns watch


As always, click the photo to enlarge

An Osprey labors skyward, having just caught a Common Carp. The fish looks shocked as it should be. "Fish Hawk" attacks come without warning. One minute you're plying your trade in the isolation chamber calmness of the underwater world, then suddenly, Crash and Splash! Out of nowhere a giant raptor's talon break the surface, seize you, and next thing you know, you're high aloft and heading for a nest of baby Ospreys. Fate: avian sushi.

Shauna and I attended the amazing Allegany Nature Pilgrimage in southwestern New York, as I gave the keynote last Friday night. Moths, of course, loosely based on Chelsea Gottfried's and my new book, Gardening for Moths, which is equal parts, at least, moth natural history. This was the 66th year for the pilgrimage and it is still going strong with about 700 attendees this year.

After that, we spent a few days based in Rochester, New York, exploring Montezuma and Iroquois National Wildlife Refuges - this Osprey image was created at Montezuma - and a few other nearby sites.

A Black Tern wheels over a marsh at Montezuma NWR. As many as 12 were present simultaneously, and this marsh also hosted up to five Osprey at once. Needless to say, birds in flight opportunities were frequent. I was especially pleased to see the terns. The Black Tern has become much scarcer in many areas, including my home state of Ohio. The reasons are several, probably, not the least of which are loss of marshes. But there's undoubtedly more to the picture. Black Terns take lots of insects, in addition to small fish. Insects are spawned by native plants, generally, and native plant diversity has certainly crashed in heavily managed, diked, marshes controlled by wildlife agencies. Invasive plants thrive in such environments and both Montezuma and Iroquois had lots of Giant Reed (Phragmites australis), Reed Canary Grass (Phalaris arundinacea), Flowering Rush (Butomus umbellatus) and others. Carp also thrives in such environments, and they are hard on wetland ecology. We can at least thank the Osprey for removing some of them.

It was interesting to watch the terns hunting damselflies from floating algal mats and other aquatic vegetation. Damselflies are tiny dragonflies and to spot them, dive, and deftly pluck them from the plants is a feat indeed.

Hopefully I'll get around to posting some more of the interesting observations that we made on this trip.

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