Friday, July 6, 2012
Aim Your Fish Into the Wind
I went about 2.5 miles up, far enough to go underneath I-95, and just past that bridge, I saw a Glossy Ibis.
I've seen this bird once before in the salt marshes, but this is the first time I've been remotely close enough to get a good picture.
Snowy Egret was a dozen feet away from the ibis also hopped a few times in his pursuit of small fish and crustaceans.
Osprey plucked a sizable fish out of the water not far from my boat. Originally I thought I had spooked him as he flew away from me, so I wasn't prepared with my camera when he suddenly circled back and dove. Though I missed the dive, I did catch him in flight with his prize.
If you've observed enough Ospreys, you might have noticed something unique about their fishing habits: they always turn a fish head first. No matter how they catch it, before they fly off, they'll rearrange it until they're holding it parallel to their bodies, head into the oncoming wind. Sometimes they do it by simply holding one foot ahead of the other, but I've also seen Ospreys who shifted their grip quite a bit in the process. The leading theory I've heard is that they're holding the fish at the most aerodynamic angle, which provides an advantage because it reduces air resistance. I'm not sure I'm convinced, but it's certainly the best explanation I've heard, and Ospreys absolutely do insist on having their fish head first. I've seen several really struggle in the air as they rearrange the fish, so the benefit of having the fish head first must outweigh the risk of falling back into the water and must, at least in the long run, pay for the extra energy expended getting it just so.
So take a lesson from our Osprey friends, and when you're engaging in an important and risky task, make sure you take a second and point your fish into the wind before you really get going.