I almost didn’t take any shots of this Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) as I thought it was a buzzard, having only my 70-200 lens and it being a long way away it didn’t seem worth the effort. However needing to practice my manual focus on moving targets I fired off a few shots, I’m so glad I did as checking the back of the camera to see if I nailed the focus I realised it was an Osprey carrying off a fish!
The Osprey was above the Kingsmill Lake area of the River Tamar only a little way upstream of Plymouth, shot from the shore near Lanulph.
I had set out to check a trail camera I have set up on what I hope is a Badger sett (no badgers on the camera), it’s a gorgeous area on a summers afternoon so I decided to take a stroll with the camera and found an Osprey! Whilst the images aren’t very good I’m still very happy to have them and I had not expected to see, let alone get a shot of such an amazing bird, this experience has certainly highlighted that just spending the time in places where wildlife is can lead to great encounters.
The Osprey is a Schedule 1 species on The Wildlife and Countryside Act due to historical decline thanks to egg collecting and killing. With an estimated 200-250 breeding pairs in the UK seeing one is a real privilege (especially in Cornwall!). The RSPB website shows a more positive trend with growing numbers.
Ospreys hunt fish, both saltwater and fresh, soaring above the water before diving onto their prey (close to the surface, generally not exceeding one meter) and as can be seen in my shots they carry their prey facing forwards.
Migrating from Scotland to West Africa for the winter Ospreys can travel up to 5,000 miles, stopping often to hunt and providing us with opportunities to see them on the Tamar.
Like many fish eating predators the Osprey is at risk to poisoning from pesticides (run off from fields that then enter watercourses and are absorbed by fish) and entanglement with fishing line. As with many animals the very presence of humans can be an issue, if you do find a nest (not down here in Cornwall) please ensure you keep your distance and ensure you do not cause the animal any stress. Ospreys along with many other species can abandon a nest if disturbed, enjoy these fantastic birds responsibly.
This part of the Tamar is part of a nature reserve managed by The Cornwall Wildlife Trust. If you enjoy spending time in places like this and care about our wildlife, please join your local trust and support the great work they do.
If you have seen one of these fantastic birds in Cornwall or Devon please leave a comment below.