The O-is-for-Osprey Channel

I first became interested in ospreys after reading David Gessner’s book, Return of the Osprey. I was born on Cape Cod yet I had never really paid much attention to these amazing birds up until then.

Yet they were here all the time.

Blog-Osprey17We nearly lost the ospreys during the 1950’s and ’60’s when DDT ravaged their populations. Thankfully we woke up, banned DDT and the ospreys rebounded.

Feeding largely on fish, hence the name “fish hawks”, ospreys are the only raptors who hover with rapidly beating “M-shaped” wings over shallow waters; diving down at 40 mph and at the last second plunging feet first into the water to snatch their prey and carry it back to the nest.

Blog-Osprey15And speaking of nests, adults mate for life and often return to the same nest year after year. These nests would never make it into House Beautiful yet I love them for their haphazard-looking piles of sticks, mud, sod and grass. Male and female build the nest together at the tops of telephone poles, channel markers, microwave towers and dead trees, but it is the female who clearly has the final say as to what goes where.

Blog-Osprey3A-ForestBeach16

Blog-Osprey3BIt is always such an exciting time when the young ospreys are ready to fly and this past week the fledgling activity reached a fevered pitch. It is a chapter in an osprey’s life that is unlike anything else and it all unfolds right before our eyes.

The magical day was at hand and as I got out of the car I could hear them off in the distance long before I spotted a single bird; their high-pitched, quivering whistles piercing the air.

I scanned the marsh for signs of movement.

Blog-Osprey2A-ForestBeachAnd there they were. Flying low, in pairs, with great excitement and a whole lot of wing flapping!

Blog-Osprey3Blog-Osprey4I headed for Osprey Hill to get a better view. At the top I looked out and was swept into osprey heaven.

Blog-Osprey5-ForestBeach There were takeoffs…

Blog-Osprey7Blog-Osprey8And landings…

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And loud discussions about who was supposed to be flying where, and when and with whom.

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Blog-Osprey13Blog-Osprey14Yet each bird seemed to find its wings eventually. And every time they lifted up, they took me with them.

Blog-Osprey18Blog-Osprey19Sometimes gliding low over muddy channels…

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Or over tall marsh grasses…
Blog-Osprey22Blog-Osprey23And finally, soaring up, up, and up!

Blog-Osprey30Blog-Osprey24And as I watched them circling and gliding I wondered, What does that feel like?

What does it feel like to suddenly lift up, to feel the power of an air current, to look down at what lies below…

Blog-Osprey28-MillLanding28I learn a little something from the ospreys every year. This year I believe they have taught me about facing the task that is at hand, no matter how daunting it may be. They have taught me about having the courage to take wing with purpose, believing that I am equipped with all that I need to navigate each twist and turn and to deal straight on with whatever comes.

And the reward is the incredible joy of flying!

Blog-Osprey31I am so glad that the ospreys survived and that we get to watch them every summer. I only hope that in my own life I can be as brave and bold as these glorious birds who inspire me simply by being who and what they are.

Blog-Osprey34Until next time, thank you for joining me here at Hats and Horses (and so much more)!

Sally

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