High Drama At The Marsh

This afternoon I was over at the marsh watching some spoonbills feeding off in the distance and hoping they might eventually fly my way.

Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I spot this bald eagle come screaming in at full speed and I knew he must be on a mission! He flew right over my head, so close I could not fit all of him in the camera lens. I immediately saw the object of his attention, he was chasing an osprey that was carrying a partially consumed fish. It’s likely the osprey was relaxing in a tree eating his catch when he got rudely chased out by the eagle.

I could tell from the look on the eagle’s face that he meant serious business and he proceeded to chase the osprey all over the marsh area, from water to tree top level.

The osprey was trying his hardest to use evasive flying maneuvers to lose the eagle but he just couldn’t shake the big guy.

Finally the osprey flew out over the salt marsh where he finally dropped the fish in the water. From a distance I saw the eagle swoop down and try for a grab but he missed it and the fish was now forever lost to both raptors.

Earlier in the day I did notice the bald eagle sitting in a far off tree and now I know what he was waiting for… once again the eagle is fine with letting another bird do all the work while he patiently lurks in the background.

Bald Eagle Chases Osprey

Bald Eagle Chases Osprey

Bald Eagle Chases Osprey

Bald Eagle Chases Osprey

Bald Eagle Chases Osprey

Bald Eagle Chases Osprey

Bald Eagle Chases Osprey

Bald Eagle Chases Osprey


48 thoughts on “High Drama At The Marsh

  1. Fantastic, Phil. Love how you got all of the angles – dorsal, ventral, etc. Yoi could not have choreographed this sequence any better if you had tried. Plus, as someone says, “any day you see a Bald Eagle is a good day!”

  2. Fantastic series of action shots Phil. Most impressive was your ability to capture the full range of fast flight and interaction in a dynamic scene with at least 4 levels of brightness at different distances. Wow! Thanks for sharing!.

    • Hey thanks a million for checking these out Nick and glad you enjoyed them!
      That pair really had me whipping myself around in all directions trying to follow them especially as the osprey went into full evasive maneuver mode.

    • It was funny to look at all the photos later, there we’re a few times when the osprey hit the brakes hard which put him behind the eagle which looked funny until the eagle was able to correct and get back into the chase.

  3. WOW! Those are some fantastic shots. That goes to show you why Ben Franklin didn’t like the Bald Eagle for our bird! What length of lens to you use? I have seen several bald eagles lately but none close enough for a good photo. Great work.

  4. Nice shooting Phil! Eagles are not known to be the best fishers and are known to steal fish from Ospreys when theey can. A great series showing this, you don’t get these shots very often!

    • I used a Canon 300 f4 with a Canon 1.4 extender attached on a 7D for these shots.
      I also have a Canon 70-200 2.8 which I used for the spoonbill flight shots on the post a couple of dates ago.

  5. That is a challenge that is better to not take. In my local area we are lucky to have a large, diverse, population of birds. You can tell when the eagles come down from the mountains to hunt; there are no birds anywhere in their vicinity.

  6. Part of me was happy the eagle didn’t get that particular fish. But another part of me understands he’s at the top of the local food chain. What great shots of the eagle chasing the osprey! I bet it’s harder for the eagle to fish anyway, as he’s bigger. Can see why he’d like someone else to do his work for him. They are both beautiful, and captured in a way that preserved the drama. I wouldn’t mess with the eagle — not with that look on his face!

    • I think it might be more work for the big eagle to fish then it is for an osprey who is perfectly designed for that job. But I do feel bad for the poor osprey who will often spend so much time and energy catching a fish only to lose it to some sneaky eagle. We will see the osprey go right back to work after losing a fish, I guess he has no choice, as so it goes in nature.

  7. Beautiful! Thank you for introducing my husband and I to the spoon bills and the Kerrigan trail! We had a wonderful time in the marsh that day! I wish we would have hung around long enough to see the eagle.
    Love your pics and stories too… you have inspired me!

    • Thanks a bunch Maggie, glad to know you liked seeing the battle in the marsh.
      I do have one of these in a little photo contest on one site. I’ll let you know how it turns out next Tue. 🙂

  8. Hello Phil, I am stunned by the pin-sharp clarity of your eagle/osprey & also your eagle/coot series. Obviously you are a pro & I am so envious of your skill. I’m in Melbourne, Australia, & we have wedge tailed eagles & we also have sea eagles which are probably kin to your “baldies”. I have just bought a Canon 700D DSLR & I am unsure whether it equates to your 7D….or 70D in the US. You have inspired me to start haunting our swamps & creeks to try to get flight shots like yours. I have just put your site in my memory to check out all your library. I’ve left it a bit late at 85 to emulate your skill…. but who knows, I might get lucky ! ! ! With my sincere thanks for your inspirational work. Ray Jones, Melb, Oz.

    • Hi Ray, well thanks a million for stopping by and checking out my photos and so glad to hear you enjoyed these!
      I’m sure if you like wildlife photography and have fun out there you will come back with many excellent photos!

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