This story needs very few words as the pictures tell it all. Today I watched a magNIFicent Osprey (Pandion haliaeetus) swoop down and catch a fish only 10 metres away! I was out and about conducting some waterbird surveys at Point Grey in the Peel-Harvey Estuary near Mandurah, when I spotted this beautiful bird perched in a dead tree at the water’s edge. Keen for a photo, we crept the car closer so I was within range of a good snap. Suddenly, this happened:
As you can see in the above photo, the Osprey was heavily waterlogged after the dive so was keen on shaking herself while flapping upwards with the fish. After landing briefly back in her perch tree to shake more of the water from her bedraggled feathers, she flew to another perch to begin tucking into the mullet meal. Again we crept closer in the car as she removed the operculum (gill covers) and ripped into the meal with ease.
These marine raptors feed exclusively on fish and as a consequence are extremely good at what they do. They have very long talons, perfectly suited to grasping the slippery, slimy skin of their prey, and a very long bill, all the better to eat it with. Also, osprey are capable of closing their nostrils to prevent filling with seawater once they dive in to seize their victim.