Sunday, January 25, 2009

Osprey Close Encounter

I spent the morning birding Lake Creek Trail from the new Parmer Village development to the T&C playing fields. It was cold! The light wind and overcast sky really made me feel the temperature. The sun briefly came out and starting warming things up, but it disappeared too soon and by 11:30 it looked and felt like dawn outside. But the birding was great -- I found 57 species, got more decent photos than usual, and was closer to a diving Osprey than I've ever been before. Here are some highlights:
  • I spent about an hour in the marshy area near the Parmer Lane bridge and found a Sedge Wren again. I got this picture:

  • Also in the marshy area 9 Cave Swallows emerged from the bridge and flew off to the east. And this Orange-crowned Warbler got close enough for me to take this relatively high resolution picture:

  • Just upstream is an area full of Vesper Sparrows and Savannah Sparrows. This morning there was also a Loggerhead Shrike that was hunting bugs. (And it could have taken one of the sparrows if it wanted.) I got this picture of it and you can see its thick, slightly hooked, predatory bill.

  • At the last dam on the creek I photographed this Osprey which had just caught a bass, which you can see it its claws. I was thrilled to see it fly past me so close.

  • But later I had a bigger surprise. I was by the creek a little further upstream looking at some small birds when there was a loud splash. I looked over and there, about 20 feet away, was an Osprey with its wings outstretched floating in the water! It dove at a fish without me even noticing, and it didn't seem to notice me. A couple seconds later it flapped, rose up out of the water, and flew off. It missed its fish, but kept circling over the creek with a second Osprey for the next 30 minutes or so. I saw one of them dive again later. Wow!
  • Nearby, at the edge of the T&C playing fields there is a small patch of cattails where I found a male Common Yellowthroat. This very brightly colored warbler lives in wet habitats -- marshes, creeks, etc. I usually see several of these birds in the neighborhood during spring and fall migration. But this was the first time I've ever seen a winter resident Common Yellowthroat here.


Anonymous said...

Yet another once in a lifetime shot! Congrats and thanks for sharing. Hard to believe a bass vs. osprey match-up actually occurs in NW Austin.

Good Work,

Backyard Birder

Mikael Behrens said...

Thanks! Lots of "match-ups" like that occur all the time in urban and suburban areas. It's just a matter of getting out and seeing it happen. A real photographer could get a much better shot of an Osprey taking a fish out of that creek if they spent a few mornings out there.

KCB said...

Holy cow, that osprey shot is cool! My kids will be amazed.

Anonymous said...

I love Osprey shot. I've only seen one once. It's never occurred to me look for one in the area. Nice shooting and thanks for sharing.

Mikael Behrens said...

Thanks KCB and James. Ospreys are not too hard to find along the Colorado River in the Austin area during the winter. And I think they like the creek in my neighborhood because there are some relatively small dammed up areas with lots of fish.