Great wildlife spectacle along the Sonoma Coast this past weekend. Whenever my husband David and I are at this lovely state park we can always hear the somewhat shrill calls of soaring ospreys, but are usually shielded from views of the bird by a heavy forest layer.
This time though, the seas were like glass and we spent most of our time standing up above the tufa zone (sandstone that gets sea carved into fantastical shapes), watching for gray whale blows as they head North. We saw lots, of all sizes and ages, as well as plenty of tail-flip action as they sounded.
But this post is really about the ospreys. David was curious about how ospreys actually caught fish in the ocean, and I was curious, too. So we watched one bird for quite a while. This was on Saturday morning. The seas had gotten a bit rougher, and whale blows were much less visible, and I suspect those surface fish were, too.
But obviously the osprey could see something. It dove after a fish and completely submerged itself (surprising), then reemerged with nothing but a heavy coat of salt water (bummer, Dude). That was taken care of as he hovered high above the surface; he shook like a dog in the air, dropping only slightly as he did so. Eventually though, he was gonna need a freshwater bath, maybe all the way back at Jenner where the Russian River meets the sea.
As I followed his flight with my Swarovskis (it's all about the details), I saw something trailing from his legs. Seaweed for nesting material? Fish?
Nope, none of that. Sadly, he had a big spool of tangled fishing line around his leg. I can't imagine that he would be able to preen that off.
We never saw him actually catch a fish, either, in over an hour of observation.
Life and death on the coast; sometimes you eat the fish and sometimes those fish eat you.