Full-Contact Nature Sport
We had taken a run to The Office in the late afternoon. Mostly just to check on the progress of Kitty and Kalev-the Brave.
And as the evening sunshine warmed us against the chill of the wind, down the river flat, in the crisp golden light a steady wing beat carried at quite breathtaking speed, an Osprey. Actually by now I suppose it should be “the Osprey”.
This bird seems to have made, at least for the moment, the area along a bend in the Werribee River, near the Open Range Zoo, its roosting or resting spot.
It is to tell, that an Osprey is not a regular bird in the area, infact not a regular anywhere along the coast in our area. But.
For Osprey reasons this bird has become at the least, regular, and perhaps at the best, a resident in the area. It seemed to have no qualms about the direction it was coming from, nor where it was going to, and a couple of humans with cameras up, and mouths wide open in awe, were it seems of little relevance to this bird as it swung in over the open river flat, slipped through the trees by the river, dropped its speed, and alighted on a branch not that far from us. I’ll give you, say, 20metres.
And there it sat. Relaxed, resting and unconcerned about our presence.
And the light was slipping away. The sun dropped below the treeline, then the river cliffs, and we were in the late afternoon moment before the sunlight disappeared from the sky. Gloom.
The Osprey, then decided the time was right to move to the larger tree in the open area, and it simply dropped off the branch, gained speed and with no more than a wingflap or two was on the open tree.
We might have stayed, but it seemed that the moment was over, and the bird settled in to preen, readjust its perching location and await the morning.
Now that I’ve had a good look at it close up, its likely to be an immature bird, as it still carries a small brown bib and collar. And from Stephen Debus, “Birds of Prey of Australian”, I have to conclude its a female. However, I may well be completely wrong and no doubt I’ll be shown the error of my ways.
UPDATE: 21 Sept 2016: aussiebirder, who has much more skill and knowledge and experience with Osprey suggests that it is a female, and a mature bird. The eye is that rich Yellow, a sign of an adult. Juveniles generally—at least for most raptors I know— have tend to have a brown eye colouring. Such as Black-shouldered Kites before they take on the deep red of the adult. So that helps explain something. Thanks AB.
EE made the astute observation that perhaps Bird Photography is more about “Luck” than anything else. And as I turned up the track toward home, I glanced over my shoulder at The Osprey, as it sat, so completely in its element in the last of the light—I gave it a nod of thanks.
I had to agree it is indeed a lot of “Luck”, and as Jon Young has said, “Set aside any assumption that its behaviour is random and meaningless.” “It is a sacred and connected silence”, and that’s the thought I travelled home with— sacred and connected— It may be luck, but then Birding is a Full-Contact Nature Sport (Jon Young again).