Fish For Breakfast?

If you are an osprey, the answer is a resounding “yes”.

The more accurate question would be: Raw fish for breakfast? To which the osprey’s response would be an emphatic “of course, it’s the only way I eat my fish.”

Sushi on an empty stomach may not for the tender-hearted, but it is the norm for the long-winged “sea or fish eagles.” Carry-out is only acceptable if the food comes straight out of the water. No storage on ice or in refrigerated railroad cars—the freshest sushi alone will do. Besides, the fish has to be carried head-forward in the talons before it’s eaten.

This isn’t mere choosiness on the osprey’s part, as having the future meal thus aligned reduces wind resistance. If you have ever watched an osprey dive talons first into the water, you might have noticed that there is a lag time before it takes off again. During those few seconds, the bird needs to shake off enough heavy water from its waterproofed feathers to be able to become airborne once again, so anything that reduces energy expenditure is expedient, including the alignment of its prey.

Osprey taking off after having successfully caught a fish (head forward). Note the Great Blue Heron in the background. Sorry the photo is so fuzzy.

Osprey dining on fresh sushi.

Do you have to watch me while I eat? (My apologies).

Ospreys are remarkable raptors with interesting names. The common name traces its origin to the medieval Latin avis prede (bird of prey); alternatively, the name might be derived from ossifragus, meaning bone breaker (Latin os, bone and frangere, to break). Their scientific name, Pandion haliaetus, is composed of an obscure reference to Pandion, one of the kings of Athens whose daughters were turned into birds, and haelietus, from the Greek hals for sea, and aetus for eagle. There is a problem with calling an osprey a sea eagle, though, because several other raptors’ common names include Sea Eagle in combination with another descriptor. This naming business is complicated!

My encounters with ospreys occur mainly during spring and fall migration, but if you would like to learn more about the complex lives of these elegant fliers and divers, as well as their exclusive piscivorousness, check out Donna’s blog at Bay Photos By Donna (https://bayphotosbydonna.com). Not only has she observed ospreys mate, lay eggs, hatch, raise (or lose) their young, she has documented every step along the way with fabulous photos of much better quality than mine.

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Addendum:

The following is not an excuse, but an explanation. My nearly 11-year-old Canon PowerShot SX30 IS camera has died several deaths only to resurrect itself miraculously. But it is arthritic, rickety, and very moody and at times not willing to get out of bed in the morning. When it does, it lets me know its dissatisfaction by squeaking, groaning, and moaning when I try to coax the lens to wake up. If it takes photos at all, they usually need significant editing, but even then turn out less than satisfactory, as is the case with my osprey images.

In other words, my camera has told me more than once that it’s ready to retire. And while I’m way past ready to let it, I’m completely intimidated by the prospect of acquiring a new one. I would love to try a mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses, but the price is as much a deterrent as are my rudimentary technical understanding of photography and the doubt in my ability to learn a new trick. But I would delight in being able to capture close-up details of flowers, of birds-in-flight, and of anything in between—like Donna and so many other wonderful fellow bloggers and photographers. I think I’m asking you photographers for advice. Should I replace my moribund specimen with another advanced zoom camera, or should I make the leap into true photography, where I will have to do more than turn on the camera and push the button?

46 thoughts on “Fish For Breakfast?

  1. Everyone will have a different reply, here’s my penneth worth. Yes you must get a new camera, it’s a wrench but the results will make up for it. If you go along the dslr/mirrorless route the outlay can be huge. You may be able to pick up cheaper used but could you trust them? Our local photographic centre sell exceptional, guaranteed items but I still prefer to spend a bit more and get a lovely, untouched new product. The other thing to consider with dslr is that there is no lens that will do everything. The kit lens supplied is usually a ‘Jack of all trades’ not bad but has limitations. So you get yourself a selection of lenses, you have to carry them about and change them in the field (and risk getting dust inside, been there, done that). I love my dslr and wouldn’t have it any other way but if you are not used to it it can be daunting.
    My recommendation is go for a high end bridge camera like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ2000 which a couple of people I know rave about. The initial cost may be high but that will be it no extra lenses to buy.
    Have fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Brian. It has been helpful to look up some of the models you and other fellow bloggers mentioned. I definitely am ready for a new camera and think a bridge camera is a better option for me.
      I have read good things about the model you mention, except a relatively short focal range of “only” up to 400 mm, compared to 2,000 or even 3,000. Do you think that might be a problem for trying to take photos of distant birds?

      Liked by 1 person

      • No lens is really that good for distant birds, even my 150-600mm with my camera bodies crop factor = 225-900mm in old money struggles to get much detail at distance. One word of warning if tempted by big numbers like 2 or 3000mm in my view these are unrealistic. Is this optical zoom or electronic? If the latter then quality is poor at best. To try and hold a camera steady at those lengths, even with a very fast shutter speed, would be an achievement.
        Go for quality Tanja, the best you can afford. Try out various models if possible at a camera store to gauge how they feel and more importantly what images they are capable of producing. Make sure you go for one with a view finder, trying to compose a shot at long length via a screen won’t work (unless on tripod). I would also say pick one that can shoot RAW images, there is so much more scope to alter these in post-processing.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. The previous commenter’s recommendation of a high-end bridge camera sounds like a good balance between convenience and quality. (The model he mentioned came out six years ago, so even better ones should be available now.) One thing you can do is visit a camera store (you might have to go to Denver) and handle several kinds of cameras. The clerk could point out the pros and cons of each model, including which ones let you get very close to a subject, and which ones let you zoom way in on a distant subject (important for bird pictures).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Steve. It has been helpful to look up some of the models that were mentioned. I definitely am ready for a new camera and think a bridge camera is a better option for me. We actually have a good camera store in Colo. Springs and I already visited once, but will return and focus on a few bridge camera models I have been reading about. I hope I can find the right one.

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      • Thank you, Steve. I have done a few similar searches before and done some reading about the models that come up. I have an appointment next week to try out a few models at the store, hope that will bring some clarity.

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  3. I loved your fishy…oops…fishing tale of ospreys. And on the second matter, Tanja, I feel you should take the plunge. For one, I know you are a quick learner and not one to get intimidated with anything in life – lest of all a rectangular plastic box tasked with capturing memoirs for the ever-shrinking human grey cells. And for the other, it is definitely a subject which is right down your lane, or rather, at the foot of Pikes Peak! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • We do like sushi, Neil, but we haven’t had any since the start of the pandemic–imagine that. Carry-out sushi is not the same as eating it in a nice restaurant. We just haven’t made it back there yet but hope to remedy it sometime soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sorry to learn that your camera is “on the blink” as we say here (don’t know if that turn of phrase has crossed the Pond). I’m a writer first and a photographer second, and have found a bridge camera (Canon FZ330) more than adequate for my needs: decent photos, plenty of settings (many of which I haven’t explored), relatively lightweight, no need to carry around a sack full of alternative lenses and very reasonably priced. Mirrorless cameras produce great results, but I’m not sure they are worth the money right now unless professional standard photography is your number one goal. Definitely visit a good camera store, speak to the experts (always remembering that parting you from your hard-won money is their number one goal 🙂) and be sure to “try before you buy”! Good luck.

    On the subject of ospreys, they are one of the UK’s conservation success stories so we’re always pleased to them here, and also in the US when visit. And I love “exclusive piscivorousness”, though it’s perhaps easier to write than to say out loud!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Mr.P. It has been helpful to look up some of the models you and other fellow bloggers mentioned. I think I’m coming to the conclusion that a bridge camera is a better option for me and my needs. While I would love to be able to pick the correct settings for each photo, it’s just not how my brain functions. But luckily the newer digital cameras offer a wide range of options and I will try to experiment more with manual settings to get used to them.

      I’m glad to hear that the ospreys have benefitted from conservation efforts in the UK.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I really loved my Canon Rebel… I still have it but it is no longer reliable. I was gifted a Nikon, but it isn’t as good as the Canon, which I miss. It was easy to operate and wasn’t too heavy… an issue with this older body. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Eliza. It has been helpful to look up some of the models you and other fellow bloggers mentioned. I think I’m starting to narrow down my choices, which makes the process a little less daunting.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh it’s hard when a camera starts letting you down, missing important shots – perhaps to document some special species… my old camera had cataracts, and the zoom feature on video function ‘groaned’… I first used the Panaxonic Lumix FZ200, and it was a good camera (because of the Leica lens) for 300 dollars. It fit in hand well, was light, and in good light did well.

    The next was a slight upgrade to the Panasonic Lumix FZ100, which basically has a 400 dollar Leica lens on a 100 dollar camera. I often use it for identifying a faraway bird, and then it’s focused and can immediately become a photo when needed. People using binoculars have to put down their binoculars and switch to the camera and then they’ve lost the shot.

    The videos are of higher quality, and one can freeze any frame of a video and save on the camera as an image file – at 4000 pixels, which is great for getting good still shots of the aves (important for me for reference for my art.) The better camera ‘thinks’ too much and is slower than the earlier version. It’s harder on batteries,and sometimes the focus is ‘spot on’ but when i depress the shutter, it refuses to take the photo. There’s probably a learning curve, and I’ll eventually figure it out.

    Many of my birding friends have larger/nicer cameras with interchangeable lenses, and later they say that I end up with the better images, mainly because my camera is smaller, easier to keep in hand, and fast to get that ‘shot’ or miss it. They are still fumbling to get the camera in place… There is another version of that series that looks like it might be really really nice, but for now I’m happy with the 500 dollar one with extra battery.

    As someone suggested, a good camera store would be helpful, an option I don’t have here. If it’s a birding/wildlife you need most, there are lots of forums online with comparison pros and cons between different cameras.
    Here’s one site that gives a Lumix comparison:
    http://birds.nova.org/FZ100vs150comparison.html
    Good luck in your search – you deserve a new camera!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Lisa, as well as the link that compares the different models. It has been helpful to look up some of the models you and other fellow bloggers mentioned and I think I’m starting to narrow down my choices, which makes the process a little less daunting. I have never believed in getting the most expensive product on the market anyhow and know that even cheaper models have a lot of functions that I have never explored, but should. I definitely wouldn’t do well if the bird flew away while I was trying to change the lens on my camera. 😊

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      • si. I was thinking today, ‘Why don’t they make a simple camera, and not one with ‘trendy’ options that take up memory and space – and if they can make a camera recognize an eye, why not the shape of a bird?! So many times the camera tries to outsmart the operator, focuses far away on trees on the horizon or on a spiderweb in the foreground, when the bird is claiming 80 percent of the viewing field – but the camera looks right past it?

        Do you plan to be ‘out’ in a specific area for Global Big Day? Most of my friends are going to a specific place to help with the census, but this new refugio and it’s VIP birds needs someone to speak for them!

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s a good thought, Lisa, but I guess there isn’t much money in a simple camera. As we know, it’s the bottom line that determines what is and what isn’t available. We haven’t yet evolved beyond that mindset and I fear we won’t be around long enough to accomplish that step.

        As far as Big Day, I will likely bird at a series of my favorite hotspots to count the resident and migratory birds. I hope your census will bring notice to to the refuge you will be visiting, prove how precious it is and that it will need to be protected. I hope you will enjoy the day.

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  7. I grew up here in Florida and went fishing a LOT. Locals call the Osprey “Fish Hawk”.

    Fish for breakfast was not unusual in our house, but fried, not raw. And accompanied with grits.

    You have had some good comments about a new camera.

    Continue to research the internet, focusing on what YOUR needs will be. Then, try to find a store where you can hold the cameras and lenses you think you want. The learning curve may look challenging, but that just adds to the fun of exploring a new ability to translate your love of nature into something tangible. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Wally. It has been helpful to look up some of the models that were suggested and I’m beginning to narrow my choice down based on how I have been using my old camera. I believe a bridge camera is a better option for me, at least right now.

      I don’t think I have eaten fish with grits for breakfast, but I have to say it sounds good, at least when one is in the mood for a savory way to start the day.

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  8. Well, your camera sounds exactly like me in the morning…😊 That said most of your shots are great – love him standing on his lunch! My husband is a Canon addict and has suggested a Canon Eos T6I? He said you might get a good bargain second hand or go for the lower models T5I etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Well, you know about me and ospreys. I just wish when they have breakfast they could be a little neater, and not leave the boat deck below them covered with scraps I have to clean up before I can start work! They’re fascinating birds, and great fun to watch.

    I just read chattykerry’s comment, and would add this. I use a Canon Rebel EOS T6s, the successor to the T61. I had a T61, and kept that as a backup when I moved up. I love my T6s. It has a fast enough shutter speed to capture birds in flight, and when I added a Canon 100mm macro lens and a 70-300mm telephoto lens, it turned into a camera that pretty much covers my needs. My only regret is that I didn’t get a 70-400mm lens at the beginning, but back then I was more interested in flowers than birds, and it seemed less important. My ‘walk around lens’ is the 18-135mm that came as part of the package.

    I especially like it because it’s a relatively light camera, and it’s held up very well. I had used point and shoots before moving to the Rebel, and had high anxiety about learning all the buttons and dials. What helped most was avoiding the ‘automatic’ setting and shooting in other settings (aperture, shutter, manual) from the beginning. It wasn’t long before I began to get a sense of the ways ISO, shutter speed, and aperture work together; I’m still learning, but the learning curve wasn’t nearly as steep as I’d thought it would be.

    Begin by thinking about your needs, rather than camera features. There are a lot of very fancy cameras out there that do wonderful things; the sensors are much larger and the number of frames per second are much higher than what my Canon produces. Still, I’ve learned that for someone like me, who doesn’t fancy being a professional photographer, what I have is perfectly acceptable.

    One thing I did learn is that an optical viewfinder’s important to me. I tried out a camera which only provided for seeing images on the LCD screen, and I hated it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Linda. It has been helpful to look up some of the models you and other fellow bloggers mentioned. I’m starting to narrow down my choices, which makes the process a little less daunting.

      I really think that with time and practice, most of us can be happy with a wide range of cameras on the market, unless there are some features that are really irksome, so I plan to go back to the store and look at a few of the models that have appealed to me a little more closely.

      Your suggestion to use the manual setting is a good one. I regret having relied on the automatic setting on my old camera for 99% of the time, as I didn’t really use many of the functions it offered and didn’t get a sense of what setting would be best. I hope to do better once I have a new product.

      Sorry to hear that your ospreys are so messy. I guess cleanliness isn’t too highly rated on their to-do list. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You’ve received a lot of good advice. The only thing I have to add, aside from more encouragement to get a new camera, is if you don’t mind spending a little cash try renting. You can then take the possible new camera out and try it for a day or two. Should you like it often the leasing company will sell you the one you have tried or give you the rental credit toward a new one if they do have a new one. I have not done this myself but many folks do it. I have rented lenses and here’s the company that I have rented from. https://www.lensrentals.com/

    Liked by 1 person

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