Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fruitful searches part III

For the Duke Point trip, I had no map. I drove all around the industrial park and the ferry terminal on the little finger of land poking into Georgia Strait.

Heading down the last road, I ended up in a log-sorting yard on the water next to what looked like a mountain of salt and a huge, red, ship-loading structure (not the technical term).

Ready to call it a day I sat, looked at the log booms and containers on barges sitting in the bay.

A dark figure perched on a nearby rail caught my eye.

To the untrained eye, it could have been an immature sea gull, or a bald eagle, but I knew immediately that the white speckles on the brown back meant one thing. Osprey.

I quickly got my camera out and photographed its back in case that was all I was going to get.

It soon tired of my attention and lifted off, and I was prepared to be thankful I saw anything until I followed its flight to the top of a light standard in the middle of the huge concrete loading area.

It flew to the sound that had been nagging me from over my left shoulder. The sound of big, hungry, young osprey waiting for fish.

It was more than likely the male I first saw, quickly getting a bite of fish before delivering the remains to the mob on the nest.

From what I could tell, the female and one nestling were up top and once they tore into the fish the flapping and crying stopped.

Sometime later I saw two on the nest with two perched nearby, suggesting the typical brood of two young but they were so big, it was hard to tell who was who.

Also, the band of dark feathers at the neck that usually signifies a female seemed to be present in all of them making it more difficult to decide who was the mature male and who a big chick. The female adult stood out because she's bigger.

She stood out for another reason, too.

After the feed, two birds came back to my level at the rail. The mature female seemed to be carrying moss in her talons. Nest repair? A bit of a surprise as what would have been a deep cup nest earlier in the year was now flattened. The platform was more like a meeting place than a shelter. Fledglings and adults don’t need a nest, just a fish-delivery point.

As the female passed over me, I could see it was rope tangled in her feet. Closer still and I saw it was old yellow polypropylene, about a quarter inch, that she'd been worrying at.

It's surprising she couldn't free herself with her razor-sharp beak. Then again, I couldn't know how long she'd been dragging it around.

I continued snapping, wishing I could just cut that rope off her, but she didn't look distressed or bedraggled. I watched for a while longer and left them in peace.


Jen Comer said...

Hi Heather, I just want to say thank you for your wonderful blog. I truly enjoy reading every new post you put up! Keep up the great adventures. Jen

Heather Reid said...

Hello Jen,

thanks so much for reading and leaving such a nice comment.