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Summer of Osprey

Some of you may recognize this as the profile picture for my Facebook page. Osprey at Barnegat Light SP. 7/12/16.

Some of you may recognize this as the profile picture for my Facebook page. Osprey at Barnegat Light SP. 7/12/16.

One of my main goals for the summer was to come home with a few osprey shots in my pocket. Well I came home with exactly that, plus some. For the majority of my shots, I was shooting shorebirds when an osprey would fly in and put on a show. The bird above is a perfect example of that! For others, I spent mornings driving around the island just looking for them. More often than not this strategy was unsuccessful, but I did have a few extremely lucky encounters. 

Osprey fledgling on LBI. 8/5/16.

Osprey fledgling on LBI. 8/5/16.

I consider this shot to be a HUGE step towards the future of my photography. No, it's nothing special, just a beautiful, near fledged osprey chick in nice morning light. How exactly I got the shot is where the importance lies. This particular nest was located in an exclusive development on a private stretch of land owned by a super lucky family in northern LBI. The house itself was just stunning, not to mention it comes with its very own osprey nest! How great? One of the last mornings of summer vacation on the island, when I decided to go searching for osprey, this is what I found. Except there was a catch. The view was from a public road, where the nest was nothing but a distant, backlit pile of sticks with a silhouetted head poking out of the top. Eager for a shot like this, I decided to approach the homeowners about accessing their property. Being a somewhat established wildlife photographer now, I was confident that they would be open to it, as the nest was on the top of their dock about 30 yards from the house. Sure enough, a man and a woman came out, more than happy to allow me to take a few pictures of the nest. So I went, all smiles, confidence beaming. 

Now, this is a nest. It's not something to mess around with, and I'm sure some will frown upon my actions. I know this. I also know how to act cautiously around the bird. In a situation like this, the birds are familiar with people. Every day there are people walking under the nest to access boats, jetskis, kayaks and every other toy of theirs that just happens to be parked beneath it. The birds know this. We know this. This is a situation where approaching is okay. So I walked out the narrow dock, took my pictures, and walked away. The last thing I would ever want is to disturb something that I care for and find so much interest in. Bringing the shear beauty in the bright orange eyes of a young osprey to my lens was something that I deemed worth a few seconds of being close. The results are stunning in my opinion. Not a bit short of what I had hoped for. Just as any other day, the osprey returned to their daily lives the second I left, unharmed. Just as any other time a homeowner decides to hit some waves, or take a peek for themselves. Some things in life are beautiful up close. This was one of them.

Two osprey fledglings at Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. 8/10/16.

Two osprey fledglings at Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. 8/10/16.

I took this shot out at Wildlife Drive. It was my last morning down at the shore for the entire summer, as my internship had come to an end. So despite the rain, I headed out on the drive to explore the saltmarsh one last time. It was early in the morning, so the light was perfect to shoot some of the osprey on the north end. This particular nest had fledged a few days beforehand, so the two young were active the entire time I was there. The light wasn't the greatest, so I ruled out getting any shots with detail. Instead, I went for something a little more dramatic. As the rain started to fall harder, the two birds left their perches and headed back to the nest. I was lucky enough to snap this shot as the larger bird came in. I love the effect of the rain. It makes everything look different. I do wish for a larger lens some day, so I can shoot in the rain and still pull out sharp, detailed images. This will have to do for now! 

Osprey with breakfast in Galloway, NJ. 8/10/16.

Osprey with breakfast in Galloway, NJ. 8/10/16.

I'm calling this shot my "osprey finale" image for the summer. For WEEKS I had been hoping that by some miracle I could pull up on an adult osprey on a telephone pole. I had the close-up juvie shot in my pocket already, so at this point I was really hoping for a miracle. Some of the adult birds were still hanging around on wildlife drive,  but they were just out of the range I was hoping for. I decided to happily end my morning on the two juvenile birds from the shot above... so I thought! I made one last brief stop at the ranch house on my way out of town to say my goodbyes, and then hit the road. Sure enough on my way to the parkway, I drove right past an osprey on a pole! In the middle of Galloway! Before I could even think, I swung the car around as quickly (and carefully !!!) as I could, and lined the bird up in the lens. I clicked away a decent amount of shots and decided it was time to move on. What an awesome treat, and an even better goodbye from the place I truly love so much. I cannot wait to visit again next summer. I miss it more than anything!

As common as they are around New Jersey, I love osprey. I especially love photographing them. This summer was my first real taste of this, and I have to say I'm addicted. There are so many amazing things about these birds that just draw me to them. I have so many shots in mind that I haven't achieved yet, but I know in the next year or so, I'll get my chance! Until then, I'll have to be happy with what I shot this summer. I'd love more than anything the opportunity to work with osprey as well. There are a lot of good people doing work with these birds every summer. I hope I can score a summer doing it too! Who knows, maybe this summer! 

Farewell, my friend. Safe migrations! 

Farewell, my friend. Safe migrations! 

As summer fades, I can't help but think about what an amazing time it was. The experience will be something I talk about for the longest time. But all great things must come to an end, only to make room for what's next. Right now that is school. Here it is, my first blog post from Oneonta! May it lead to many more.

On another note, I start counting hawks a week from Sunday. I'm still looking for a word to describe how excited I am. 

Until next time!

Kyle