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.