Great Blue Heron: 1, Osprey: 0 – Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreshadow
When the fledgling great blue heron settled in on the branch vacated by the osprey only minutes earlier, I should have known things at the lake would get exciting.
Even though they had fully fledged eight days earlier, the fledglings occasionally returned to the nest, and sometimes they were joined by one of the parents. On this day, only one fledgling was back, but he stayed for quite a while, sunning himself high above the boat traffic.
Earlier that day, I had been thinking that I hadn’t seen any osprey at all at the lake the entire year. Then in mid-afternoon, as if the osprey had read my mind, one darted from down-channel and perched on a dead tree limb across from the herons’ nesting island. The osprey preened a bit, and then settled in for a while.
The fledgling in the nest seemed very interested in the osprey, staring intently across the channel, watching closely.
After a while, the osprey stirred, and then suddenly dove towards the water for dinner, landed his prey in one swift move and absconded for the eastern cove, fish-in-talons.
Meanwhile, the great blue heron fledgling anxiously watched as two fishermen in a row boat stroked closer and closer to the island and nest. They landed on the shore, and flushed the fledgling in the process.
The fledgling took flight and quickly found refuge on the dead tree limb across the channel – the same branch vacated by the osprey only minutes earlier – and resumed his sunbath that had been interrupted by the boaters. He settled in and I watched from a distance through binoculars.
I should have known the osprey wasn’t gone for good, and that things would get exciting.
When the osprey returned from the eastern cove and rounded the corner to reclaim his branch, the fledgling heron was already there, but the osprey had no way of knowing that his perch had been taken; the branch was obscured from the osprey’s line of sight by pine boughs and deciduous branches, and as he curved back towards the branch from the cove, he was flying blind for a few meters.
The osprey swooped in to the final feet for his landing, just about to grasp the branch with his talons extended, only to find the interloper heron already there. I’m not sure who was more startled, the osprey or the heron. The heron bellowed out a piercing frawhnk, more bark than bird call, and lept up a foot in the air, his wings akimbo to threaten the osprey. The osprey let out a shrill scream and plummeted from the branch, whirling and cartwheeling before righting himself and flying off to the south.
I find it remarkable that a great blue heron fledgling that had fledged only eight days earlier would emerge the victor in a territorial skirmish against an adult osprey. The osprey was at a disadvantage, of course, because of its blind approach to the branch when returning from the cove.
But still… Go heron!
Heron: 1, Osprey: 0
The osprey is a magnificent and graceful raptor, and I feel a little guilty showing one losing the battle, in a clumsy way.
To make up for that, the bottom photo here is an osprey juvenile from today’s outing, not at all clumsy while preening. I have no idea where the osprey nest is located, but each year, I’ve observed one or two fledglings or juveniles at the lake. They’re not a “common” sight, and so it’s always a thrill to see them.
Thanks for the Weekly Photo Challenge nudge Krista Stevens and WordPress.
(This took place August 20, 2012)
© 2013 Babsje. (https://babsjeheron.wordpress.com)
Posted on August 9, 2013, in ardea herodias, Art, Birds, daily prompt, Great Blue Heron, Nature, Osprey, Photography, Photography challenge, postaday, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wildlife Photography and tagged ardea herodias, great blue heron, heron, osprey, postaday. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.