Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring on the island

One of the special advantages we have on the island and coastal mainland each spring is watching osprey build their nests and go through their mating ritual.   An osprey's wingspan can reach up to six feet, so you can imagine how incredible it is to watch them soaring high in the sky or diving into the Gulf for fish.

Yesterday afternoon I rode with my friend and fellow photographer, Harry Purcell, to Ft. Pickens to observe returning osprey and try for some photos. Harry very graciously allowed me to try out his Canon 70-200mm prime lens, and I was able to capture some nice shots. 

I've found myself becoming more curious about indigenous wildlife as a result of my patrols in the last few years. What started as a passion for sea turtles has expanded to several sea and shore birds as well.

Osprey typically mate for life.  The female (left) is generally larger, has a slightly large wing span, and usually has more brown speckling across their chest. 

Osprey typically return to the same nest year after year. 

Looks like we'll see the female nesting soon.

Whether you live here or are visiting Pensacola Beach, this is a wonderful time to visit Ft. Pickens (especially with a pair of binoculars) to watch the osprey soar and work on their nests. Either early morning or late afternoon is a great time to watch them fish also.


Novice Naturalist said...

I always look forward to your posts, because I get a treat just like this one. I had the chance a couple of years ago to be in your area when the ospreys were setting up nests. What a magnificent bird, and it is a thrill to watch one fish--I've seen that only a couple of times. Looking forward to a great season of posts!

SharMorr said...

last year while visiting Ft. Pickens in June we had the pleasure of seeing young Osprey in their nests with Mama. I took some awesome pictures as well. Thanks for your posts! I enjoy seeing your discoveries of sea turtle nests and if we ever get to the area again, will do a lot more exploring of Ft. Pickens.....I can see why you love the Pensacola area.

Wendy Kepko said...

Beautiful shots of incredible birds. Harry has some fantastic photographs on his Smugmug page. I am always pleased to see him and hear about his travels. That lens is sweet! I shot a pair of osprey in Tiger Point 2 weeks ago with a Nikon 80-400mm lens...these are a little crisper than mine. Great job.