Fly By Here, I Dare You

I swear we are cursed. Once again, our Texas trip has been hit with an unexpected cold snap. Been off and on while on the border – 70’s one day, 50’s next. Moved north a bit to check out some other sites and now we are looking at temps down to 30F. Granted our driveway is currently covered with snow, but come on Texas, let’s keep the boiler on until we have to head back! Meanwhile, things are still going well on the “Average Year” front. Initial surges were expected and now the daily hauls have drastically dropped as the easy adds (at least in this region) are mostly done with only a few unfortunate misses. Did tin two rarities which were amazing – sorry, you have to wait for those reveals until 2025. Just kidding, but at least until we return home. As Ron has already returned to Chicago, decided I’d go ahead and make a new page to help us keep tabs on our progress. Added a new item on the nav bar appropriately titled The Birding Chronicles (direct link here). Planning to update it at least monthly and random times in between – at points when I am ahead of course ha!

Osprey found in Audubon Bird Sanctuary at Dauphin Island in April 2021

Hit the jump to read a bit more about our time with Mr. and Mrs. Yellow Eyes.

One of the interesting things about our little competition is a renewed interest in the common birds – even ones I absolutely hate. Take for instance the Blue Jay. Normally, I spot one of those asshats, scoff, mutter some profanities and continue on. When Ron and I came upon our first one this year I scoffed, snapped a picture, muttered some profanities and continued on. Granted, from that point on it was business as usual. In contrast, I always enjoy shooting today’s featured feathered friend. The Osprey is a raptor that will quickly fill up a digital card in the field. Sitting, flying hunting, nesting it doesn’t matter, like a magnet The Beast will find it and tag it.

Osprey found in Audubon Bird Sanctuary at Dauphin Island in April 2021

Guessing the Osprey is second only to Eagles in my most shot category. Ironically, they are also probably the most deleted image in the digital darkroom due to soft shot after blown out shot after underexposed shot. The sharp contrast between the brown and white feathering doesn’t leave a lot of room for exposure results. Couple that with their fast hunting techniques and .. well, thank the Kodak engineers for the digital age where a button on the keyboard erases all mistakes cost free. This series of shots managed to make it through the trash key gauntlet.

Osprey found in Audubon Bird Sanctuary at Dauphin Island in April 2021

Ron and I were birding the Audubon Birding Sanctuary on Dauphin Island last April (I cannot believe it is already ’22) when we found these. Yes, there are actually two specimens here. The two images directly above are likely the female. She spent the most time in the nest itself only occasionally heading out along with the suspected male. When they were both at the nest, the male would quickly move to the top of the higher side supports for a better view – almost daring anything to fly too close at their own peril. The bookend shots captured that intimidating posture.

Osprey found in Audubon Bird Sanctuary at Dauphin Island in April 2021

For those interested, we located these specimens at the back of the sanctuary straight out from the parking lot. If you take the trail around the pond (which was flooded the first day we were there), there is a short path that take you to an area with benches perfectly positioned to view the artificial nest platforms at the edge of the beach. They are likely hunting that pond as we initially located one of these two sitting in the treeline intently staring at the water. Maybe looking for the Gator that roams those waters. Little did we know at the time they had taken up residence less than 200′ away. Note, this nest platform is still a ways out there, so if you head there, bring your long glass.

Will call it a post there. Wanted to get something out while I had a break in the action. For those back home, stay warm!

23 thoughts on “Fly By Here, I Dare You”

  1. Excellent Osprey photos. We get both kinds of Osprey out here: propellered and feathered, I still find it strange to see the feathered ones in the desert having to dine on gophers, but they have a nice protected nest in an electrical transformer station across the river form us.

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    1. Thank you Timothy. Appears your feathered Osprey have adapted their diet. That’s a big catch for a bird, but it has me thinking if I could just train them to take out my ground squirrels I’d be enticing them to take up residence! I will say I see the same adaptation happening on the Eagle front. We have one that has taken up residence about a mile from me and we really do not have a body of water to support that size of a predator. Been seeing it on the ground out in the harvested fields, so guessing it has acquired a taste for rabbits, chipmunks, voles etc. I applaud, the Red-Tails that patrol those fields are not so happy ha!

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    1. Thank you Kaya. As I mentioned I never tire of shooting Ospreys so graceful in the sky, so deadly on the wing. If you want to waste a lot of digital card space, spend a day trying to capture it as they blast into the water after a fish. snap, delete, snap, delete, snap, delete…. eventually you might get something in the tin that you can do something with – all that with a giant smile on my face the whole time ha! Appreciate you coming by.

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  2. Ospreys are one of my favorites as I have seen many in the waters I kayak. Like eagles they command the territory they hunt or nest in. Just love watching them pluck a fish from the water as if it were easy. Great shots β€œB”! Hopefully your trip will warm up a bit so you can capture more images for your 2026 posts.πŸ˜‚πŸ€£ Safe travels!

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    1. 2026.. I see what you did there hehehe.. so true, so true. Things are warm at the moment (high 70s) as we pushed up to so a little site seeing around San Antonio. In three days in will be in the high 20’s – what’s up with the cold fronts in Texas!! Needless to say we will head back down south to let this pass – can’t have our waterlines freezing. I suspect you have seen some amazing scenes while out on your kayak/canoe. Keep kicking around getting into that activity sometime to get closer to those waterbirds.. not that I need anymore hobbies ha. Take care of yourself CJ!

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  3. Shame you are suffering a bad spell of weather (again) hope it didn’t spoil the vacation, just think you might have been on a butterfly hunting trip!
    Love Ospreys but see very few in my part of the UK, just the odd migrant that might linger. Really must make the effort to get back to Scotland.

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    1. Now that we are retired, we have the luxury of adapting our vacations whenever Mother Nature decides to throw some wrenches we just shift up, down, left, right, or if we have to, wait the sucker out. In this case we moved north to take advantage of a hotter temps there and now are planning to move back down in a couple of days to get under a cold snap that will be pushing its way over. Good news, Ron and I have been able to get several Butters in the tin that I think you will like. Have to get home and in my digital darkroom to get them processed – hopefully worth the wait. Hopefully you will be back to traveling again – especially to see your daughter! Also sorry to hear about the “pay” issues that are popping up at your stomping grounds – totally sucks. Thanks for dropping in B.

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  4. Very Nice Brian. Not something we usually see in our part of the country. BTW, your Birding Chronicles article is the perfect opening for the book The Average Year. Hope it is in stores for the 2022 holiday season.

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    1. We get a few from time to time in our parts, but I can definitely tell you they are EVERYWHERE down here. Traveling between SPI and Brownsville, I’d be shocked if I went more than 4 telephone poles and didn’t have one perched on top. Lot more Raptors down here overall – Harris’, Grey, White Tailed – starting to feeling sorry for the rodents in these parts. Must be hell for those small critters to go out to eat ha. Not sure anyone is going to buy a book about an average year…. although thinking that might be a good comedy skit in the vein of George Carlyn.

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      1. I think more birders, and photographers, can relate to (and afford) an “Average Year” than the aspirational “Big Year”. And many more would appreciate the humor and accompanying stories than those that pursue the “Big Year” (get the impression there may not be as much of a sense of humor amongst those driven few). Though I think you may have crossed over into the vacationing where you can photograph birds (Big and Average Year hopefuls) instead of photographing birds where you vacation (less than Average Year candidates).

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      2. Well, actually we have always tended to vacation where the target birds are. Generally Linda gives me the destination points for the trip and then I get busy figuring out what places along that route I want to stop based previously on my life list gaps, however, this year I am definitely focused more on simply collecting the most unique species regardless of lifer status. One of the many nuances this endeavor has brought with it ha!

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  5. Great photos of osprey! Their eyes are so intense. They are an adaptable kind of bird – nesting right next to freeways, etc. Jays are another adaptable kind of bird. I know they’re not one of your favorites, but they use their smarts to get what they need. πŸ™‚

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    1. Appreciate the kind comments. They definitely have the ability to adapt and based on what I’m seeing down here in the south, their numbers are doing quite well! I can’t deny Jays have a way of shifting to whatever the land gives them – unfortunately a lot of that gets directed to taking eggs from other nests and that is one of the reasons I have the Blue on my top 5 hated list. I’ll hear a racket in the woods outside my house, look out, and sure enough the parents will be in an all out dogfight with a Blue doing everything they can to defend their future chicks. The circle of life of course – if only these Osprey would get a taste for them hehehehe. Appreciate you dropping in!

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      1. Yep, corvids take a toll on eggs & nestlings. Right now, the 100+ robins in my yard are crowding out most other birds, reducing their chances of surviving the winter. My “pet” Cooper’s hawk is trying to help out the other birds by taking out robins regularly. 😁

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  6. Awesome photos, I so enjoy reading your description of the park just because we are there and it is so cool to read that you were there. The nest are empty but the Osprey are every where we walk. I know the call they make now so I can see them better. Such a beautiful bird.

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    1. Thank you Sandra. I have the exact same feeling reading your posts on the Gulf Coast. Having been there I can completely relate to the experience (like the Gator you mentioned in the sanctuary pond. There were plenty of them in the area when we were there – sounds like they are still hanging around down there outside of their nesting period – probably hunting that pond. Take care Sandra and I hope to get caught up again on all the posts I’ve been missing – connectivity has been a bit spotty in our latest destinations making it hard to keep up.

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  7. Love the detail you captured in the brown feathers of the Osprey. Really nice photos. And I have to add a word of defense for the Blue Jay – I love seeing their color in the trees, and they certainly can take those Mocking Birds down a notch! Really, the only bird I have trouble enjoying is the Grackle – I’ve just chased too many off the roof of my car in the grocery store parking lot! Ugh.

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    1. Thanks Sam! You take enough of these shots and you eventually get a few worth showing people! I see the Blue Jay lobby has gotten to you ha! I am starting to get a bit annoyed by the Mockinbirds purely for wasting my time in the field. Not the best of bird ears, so I am very susceptible to their copycats. I officially feel sorry for those of you that have to put up with those Great-Tailed Grackles – now that is a racket that will drive you absolutely insane – ironically, Linda has to listen to me constantly complain about the demonic “pop whistles/kazoos” of call they have. Fortunately, we do not have that species back home or we would probably move hehehehe. Take care Sam and thanks for dropping in.

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