Nature’s Delights and Disappointments

 

I have been photographing an Osprey family of three chicks in Maple Ridge over the past few weeks. Today I was reminded of the delight and disappointment that Mother Nature brings us.

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) sitting on nest Brtitish Columbias

Some Osprey info: They mate for life and lay eggs in late April. Novice Ospreys will lay 2 -3 eggs and an experienced pair can produce more. These reddish-brown eggs are similar to the size of hens’ eggs. After a thirty day incubation period, if the chicks survive the next 60 days, they can start to fly. Mom and Dad have to protect them from nest predators, raccoons, snakes, but the worst are the eagles.

 

I received a message from another photographer that a pair of eagles had apparently snatched two chicks from the nest. The story was that both Mom and Dad went after one of the eagles, leaving their nest wide open for the other one to zoom in and grab two of their chicks.

 

Deciding to see for myself, I called up a few of my photography friends to join me in a beautiful early morning drive out to Maple Ridge. We arrived at 7:00 a.m. to find the park already full of cars, boat trailers and photographers who had staked out the prime positions to capture the nest.

 

I chatted with one of the women in the group, who told me that they had been there over an hour and hadn’t yet seen the chicks. Despite the seemingly empty nest, she had witnessed one of the adults drop in a fish.

 

For the next 90 minutes I viewed the adult peering into the nest. Maybe I was imagining it but I felt the Osprey looked sad. I was hopeful that it maybe it was shading its chicks from the morning sun beating down on them.  I watched it fly away, circle the lake, return and land on the nest edge once more. In previous weeks I observed that the Osprey would land and settle into the middle of the nest. Not this time. Once again, it took up a position on the edge.

 

We waited and waited for the chicks to appear but nothing. Disappointment.

 

Eagles are very lazy in terms of getting their meals. They will snatch from wherever they can, and an open nest with three unprotected chicks is a free and easy meal to be taken. The strong will always survive in Nature but at the cost others. I am grateful for the opportunity to delight in photographing the chicks for their short lives.

 

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