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Natures Conflicts - A Tale of Birds of Prey

Discussion in 'Birds' started by JimCo, Jul 3, 2007.

  1. JimCo


    Feb 16, 2006
    Sublimity, Oregon
    The photography here isn’t necessarily incredible but what happened is…


    My wife and I were out on the Detroit Lake (Oregon) late last Sunday evening with another couple. This was a spur of the moment outing since we were unusually kid-less and grandkid-less last evening. It was quite late when we got to the marina, probably around 6:30 PM or later.

    My boat stayed at the marina as we went in the other couples boat. We were just putting around the lake very slow like. It was a nice change from the usual racing around, pulling tubes and wake boards, that we normally do. We ended up going up what's called Blowout, an inlet on the south side of the lake. As we approached the point at the entrance to Blowout, there were about a half dozen Osprey flying around so I attached my 300 mm f/4. I shot this:

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    We tootled all the way back into the cove, saw some big cruisers anchored there for the night, but not much else. We proceeded under the walk bridge and as far back as we dared in a fiberglass boat before we turned around. It is now about 8:15 PM and although the sky had gotten to be a high overcast, it was still fairly bright out as we headed out of the cove towards the lake. But the light was beginning to fade. As we reached the point to where the inlet met the lake, there were two Osprey, pretty far off, that seemed as if they were competing to pluck something from the water.

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    One of the Osprey beat the other to a nice trout and carried it off with the other Osprey in hot pursuit.

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    The sun was mostly behind the mountain now so there was no direct light on the subjects. I mention this because the next few pictures have washed out backgrounds because I am shooting a very dark object (bird of prey) against the much brighter sky in poor light and to bring out detail in the birds I’ve had to post process these very heavily. I used ACDSee Pro 2 beta since I’m signed as a beta tester for the product (hey, it get’s me 30% off when the full version is released). My interest in ACDSee is primarily as a DAM but I'm pretty impressed with it's editing tools.

    On with the story:

    These two Osprey, one with the fish in it’s talons, were still squabbling over the fish as the one with the fish flew towards a snag to perch on. That snag was at the point which was on the opposite side of the boat from where they had been hunting. This caused them to fly directly above us and I believe there was a third Osprey that joined the other at harassing the successful hunter. It was really quite confusing as I was desperately trying to locate them through my viewfinder and get them into focus, but they were very close and directly overhead and I was having a very difficult time finding them in the viewfinder. I am not an accomplished BIF shooter.

    SUDDENLY out of the sky came another bird entering into the foray! It was so close and large that I couldn’t get the entire span of it in the frame with the 300mm (I cropped this horizontally to center the bird).

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    This Eagle dove at the Osprey that had the fish causing him to drop it. Then the Eagle instantly snatched it out of the air (I am told). Sadly in all the confusion I didn’t even see that, little lone capture it. By now I am leaning backwards 10 or 20 degrees, trying not to fall over or overboard while trying to locate him through the viewfinder. I managed to capture these…

    Way too close...

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    Bear in mind that we’ve estimated the trout to be about 12”-13” in length.

    And the Osprey, hurt only in pride, flies off to hunt some more.

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    This all happened very quickly and very close above us. So close in fact that when we got back to the marina and were wiping down the boat we found several blood spatters spread from bow to stern. It was probably fish blood.

    These were all shot at 300 mm, handheld, and from a (slowly) moving boat. Luckily the lake was fairly calm.
  2. What a story, without the pictures who would believe it? Man you are good with that camera.

    Well Done for sure
  3. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    What a great adventure
  4. JohnK


    Aug 6, 2006
    Pacific NW
    Terrific series, and I don't think that one shot is to close, it gives a great feeling of the eagle swooping right over the viewer.
  5. Glacier


    Jan 17, 2006
    Boaz, Alabama
    Just to see something like that would be enough but to capture some of the action is outstanding!
  6. Firelarz


    Feb 26, 2006
    Chandler, AZ
    Great job! And good story!
  7. JimCo


    Feb 16, 2006
    Sublimity, Oregon
    Thanks, but I feel the story is much better than the pictures. I am getting better with the camera but I have a long way to go especially at nature photography. These don't even compare to what I've seen you post.

    Thank you.

    Oh yes, it really was a great adventure. Thank you.

    Maybe your right on this one, but I've always heard that you need to get the entire subject in the shot. Thanks.

    I can't even describe how exciting that was. I'm just glad I happened to be shooting in continuous/closest subject mode or I wouldn't have gotten anything.

    Thank you. I enjoyed telling that story.

    And thank you all who have commented on this series. I know the shots in their original form are marginal at best. The lighting was really quite poor. At first I was pretty disapointed in what I had. I really had to work the levels, contrast/brightness, and shadow/highlight functions pretty heavily. Then of course that introduced a fair bit of noise in the shots so I had to take care of that too. They did turn out better than I first expected.

    But darn, if only I could have captured that fish in the air with the eagle swooping it up. Now that would have been something.
  8. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005
    Excellent set Jim and enjoyable narrative. I felt like I was in the boat with you. :smile:

    RAURICK Guest

    What a great series!
  10. Jim,
    You have just photographed the main reason Ben Franklin did not want the eagle as the National bird as he spoke of it as a bird of poor character and lazy. It won the National Bird Symbol by one vote in the 2nd. Continental Congress over the turkey. Great catch with a 300MM glass.
  11. Cool series and story, I see that Lou has already given you some background.

    We see this often, and sometimes the birds doing the "chasing" can be a big surprise. Seeing Crows and Red Wing Blackbirds chase Bald Eagles off. I watched an Osprey just the other day attack a Juvenile Bald Eagle. Even seen Seagulls chase Eagles off, and Osprey routinely do, especially around a nest site. I just posted an image of a Bald Eagle stealing from a GBH. These birds are just about the most opportunistic "grocery shoppers" I've ever seen.

    Once again, great story and shots, really cool watching it, isn't it?

  12. sypher


    May 24, 2006
    Cougar Country
    great story and great series!:) 
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