Sunday, August 16, 2009

Osprey and surrounding action on Saturday

On Saturday, Black Jack and I cycled over to North Vancouver for a full day of action-observation around the osprey nest.  Ship Rock was there; his wealth of experience, generosity in sharing tips and compelling stories made the day both stimulating and great fun. Other photographers came by as well.  Mark, Lenscape and Iqbal Perez are three that I can now name.  I am rushed this morning, hoping to make it over there again for low tide, but will provide links to their Flickr sites on my next post.  The hours flew by, and before I knew it, Bill had joined us.  Once again, his support goes beyond what I could ever have imagined possible.  Thank you, Bill!

Here are a few of the day's happenings:

Junior doing a handstand, as Mom watches.  
Mom still "handfeeds" Junior, but she leaves him for longer and longer periods, often watching from the next pylon.  He forages in the nest when he is on his own, seeming to grow by the minute, and becoming more independent each day.
Another handstand, as he works hard, exercising his wings in preparation for flight.  Ship Rock made an interesting point that he is not convinced all bird and animal behavior is purely instinct.  While it does play a huge role, there is much that we don't yet fully understand about the adult's ability to teach, step by step, the coping strategies important for survival.
With at least 30 seals in the area, there is opportunity for lots of child-rearing observation on that front as well.
Dad was gone most of the day, but made a fly-by before heading to the ship mast, and then, off to the highest regions of the sky, where he appeared to be riding the air.  We wondered if he was simply enjoying the day and the exhilaration of flying.
A drama took place that I believe started with a juvenile seagull (on the log) becoming over-demanding.  I think its parent is in the water.
The parent feeds it.
Then, a sibling (?) says, "Me too!"
There is a scuffle between the parent and one of the siblings.
Parent tells child off.  Child reacts with fear (?) anger (?)..  I'm not sure, but it is clear that emotions are running high.
The argument continues.  I'm pretty sure Mom is saying, "Listen here, young fellow.  Smarten up or else!"
Then, the osprey mom interferes.  Why is the question.  Is she simply saying, "Hey, you guys, enough!" or is she trying to demonstrate something to Junior.
Whatever her intentions, the action was very exciting.  In the end, she returned to her nest, appearing to be satisfied that she had the upper hand.
There was an episode in the middle of the day when the sky darkened, and a huge murder of crows headed East.  Here, they gather in the tree, something they normally wouldn't do until sundown.  I had the feeling all day that there was a kind of electric energy driving the behavior of all the wildlife around me.  I felt connected to that energy in ways I am unable to articulate, but felt keenly.  Even as Bill and I drove home, the sky was red well after 9:00 p.m.  
There were several families of Common Mergansers that came by.  This particular picture was taken at the end of the day, when the light was perfect.
They did a skittering motion across the water (these next tthree taken in the morning) that I had never seen before.  Very fast, and very exciting to watch.

Overall, Junior was quieter than I would have expected, given that I believe he should fledge before the end of the month.  He did have several hopping up and down exercise sessions that were encouraging signs of his growing strength.

The cormorants were very active as well.  There seems to be a competition at times between them and the osprey parents.  I'm not sure what that is about. Perhaps, again, lessons for Junior.  Here, one shows itself off in the sunlight.
I am always trying to catch a crow in flight.  It's an ongoing process, but here is one of my better (though not yet successful) attempts.
And, last by not least, a seagull in the sun to end this post.  The weather is beautiful, and I'm off with Black Jack again, to see what the day brings.


  1. Hey Carol, another great series of photos. Thanks for posting, because I know it will be a long time before I get to travel and see ospreys, and other cool animals and birds. Thanks for sharing your Saturday action. Anna :)

  2. We are all going to be so sad when Junior does discover the joys of flight and is no longer in his nest... but, of course, his parents are preparing him for the big, wide world! Do ospreys migrate? Most birds in Manitoba do.

  3. I love that second handstand one! Incredible!

    I agree with Ship Rock that not all animal behaviour is based on instinct. We know, for example, that dogs removed from their mom too early and not socialized with older dogs often fail to develop bite inhibition - something the older dogs teach young ones. Likewise, older dogs reach a point where they let the youngster know the "puppy license" has run out and annoying relentless puppy behaviour will no longer be tolerated. Similarly kittens seperated too soon from mom will have a harder time learning to use the litterbox.

  4. You're welcome, Anna:) Thanks for commenting.

    Thanks, Phyllis. Yes, it will be sad to see Junior go, but if he manages to fledge safely, I will be greatly relieved for him. I found a site that says most ospreys in North America do migrate. Here's the link: WHERE DO THEY GO

    Thanks for interesting info, Jean, about nature/nurture. I'll pass on your thoughts to Ship Rock.