Shaken, Not Stirred

Humorous Essays and Other Stuff

Gerald Andersen

Gerald Andersen
Califon, New Jersey, United States
January 06
"“When I have one martini, I feel bigger, wiser, taller. When I have a second, I feel superlative. When I have more, there's no holding me.” - William Faulkner "I grow old...I grow old. I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled." -T.S. Eliot


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MAY 8, 2012 8:29PM

Need Another Reason to be Glad You're Not a Fish?

Rate: 9 Flag


Diving Osprey


I came upon this picture of an Osprey in full attack mode on a birding site I "friend" on Facebook. The image just blows me away. The speed (Osprey dive at speeds up to 80 mph), the athletism (as they say in the world of human sports), the ice cold fury (if you can find a glimmer of mercy or empathy in that eye, you are indeed an optimist) are stunning to behold.

I had a "moment" with one of these magnificent creatures last year while fishing in the South Branch of the Raritan River near my home. On a lazy Summer afternoon, I was wading in mid-river casting for trout. I was having better luck catching branches than fish, when I gazed down river and saw a very large bird flying in my direction at approximately the height of my head.

At first, I thought it was a blue heron, frequent fishing companions on the river, but a flash of white made clear it was an Osprey. And an Osprey who was struggling to gain altitude because it had a large, silver fish clasped in its talons. As it drew closer, I lowered my rod to the horizontal position and ducked. It passed over my head close enough that I could feel the down draft from its beating wings.

The fish it had was larger than anything I had seen that day, so maybe it was making a point.  

I have seen several already this year. They come here on their way elsewhere, but also to feed on the trout with which the State of New Jersey is stocking the river at this time of year. In fact, Tuesday is the best day to spot one because that is stocking day, and I have been told, several of them follow the truck. 

I am thrilled these fearsome and beautiful creatures are back with us after being on the brink of extinction only a generation ago. Even in our messed up times, sometimes good things happen. 

I am sure the aquatic population feels otherwise. 

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I was outside last summer when a hawk flew down about 15 yards from me and took away a live squirrel. It made me want to never let another pet go outside. Your picture makes me want to stay away from water.
My close encounter with a large predator bird was on a cold winter night in Taos Ski Valley walking home from a lodge, slightly loaded when an owl with a four or five foot wing span silently gliding up the mountain three feet off the icy surface of the road flapped it's huge wing once and lifted itself three feet over my head with no effort whatsoever. All I heard was the rush of air over those wings.
Did I ever tell you what a nice, well-behaved, kitten Tink became after I took his older brothers out Osprey hunting that time?

Actually I don't think that influenced him as much as them never coming home again did......

I had a feeling sushi was involved. Birds of prey are awesome, I hope they sweep the election in November.
I once saw a gorgeous blue heron by my pond in Westchester County. I admired it for many minutes. It came by several times. And then, a couple of days later, I realized it had eaten all of my koi!
Yes...have seen them fairly often in the trees near our condo in Florida. They are fierce and a bit intimidating. They grab fish from the ponds and bring them to a tree near our lanai. It is really nature in the raw. I am glad I am not a fish
I saw a crow kill a bunny once, and heard the bunny scream. That is a noise you never want to hear.
I once saw an owl take a cat. The cat remained silent as it was whisked into the air. It is the type of thing you never think of let alone expect to see. Nature, a sometimes painful beauty.
Your title is amazing... I "turned" to your page, saw the picture and started laughing. Your story delivers smiles and visuals (I could see you catching the branches). If you ever get over here my husband and I will take you to the most gorgeous National Parks where there are "hides" above water and you can see this stuff all of the time.