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Osprey photography at Blue Cypress Lake

Updated: Jan 14, 2020

After a few attempts of photographing osprey near local waters in Maryland, I could not get satisfying result, I decided to take a trip to the mega of osprey photography in the world, the Blue Cypress lake near Vero beach, Floria. After about 20 minutes drive via misty fog covered highway and country roads from the hotel, we arrived at the Lake Blue Cypress.

It was still dark and a little bit windy when we got on the boat, we decided to wait in the near water for better lighting till the sunrise. In the meantime, we were able to capture a few shots of the glory morning of the lake.

With the lighting condition improved, we decided to adventure further to look for ospreys. According to our guide, Steve, there are about two to three hundreds of osprey nests along the lake shore. The hatching usually starts from late march to mid-April, depending on the seasonal variations each year. The parent ospreys are busy with catching fish and nursing the babies during this time, this place become a gigantic theatre of action movies, this is the best time for osprey photography there. Mostly, the mother stays with the babies and the father catches and brings fish to the nest.

One adult female osprey usually lays one to four eggs (mostly three), it takes about 40 days to hatch. It will take another 8 weeks of fledging. During this period of time, the female stays on or close to the nest site.

Osprey's diet consists of 99% of fresh or saltwater fish, that is why they are also called fishing-hawk. Male osprey does the most fishing. Ospreys are excellent fishermen, they have more than 30 percent of success of each dive. They are experts of aerodynamics too, they soar high above their prey and dive feet first into the water at full force, they submerge in the water and catch fish with their sharp talons. They carry fish head first to reduce air resistance during flight.

Osprey pairs are generally monogamous and mate for life. This was observed thousands years ago, the poem "Fair, Fair, Cry the Osprey" from the Shih Ching, the oldest collection of Chinese Classic Poems, depicts well the symbolism of long lasting love and relationship:

'Fair, fair,' cry the ospreys

On the island in the river.

Lovely is this noble lady,

Fit bride for our lord.

In patches grows the water mallow:

To left and right one must seek it.

Shy was this noble lady;

Day and night he sought her.

Sought her and could not get her;

Day and night he grieved.

Long thoughts, oh, long unhappy thoughts,

Now on his back, now tossing on to his side.

In patches grow the water mallow;

To left and right one must gather it.

Shy is this noble lady;

With great zithern and little we hearten her.

Forgive me that I digress here. Can you tell the difference between male and female osprey?

One thing caught my eyes was that male osprey often carries headless fish. I asked our guide Steve about this. He joked that male ospreys are pretty selfish just like men, they feed themself first then feed the rest of the family! Or maybe they just want to make sure the fish would not escape after cutting head off, so the female osprey and babies would have something to eat.

One more close up of feeding the chick by mother osprey.

If you like landscape photography, Blue Cypress lake is also a very unique place to take photos. The sunrise on the lake is so mesmerizing, with the dark color water and the beautiful cypress trees under the moring golden light, you would think you have entered a paradise.

Three hours boat ride was so quick! The sun ray was getting harsh, definitely we had passed the golden hour of photography. We decided to heading back to the dock. Suddenly, I saw this osprey perched on a dead curly brach, here is the shot!

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