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Stories from the valley

Predator and Prey

Contributed by Lewis Kemper

Lance Law 4000-150504-_KDX8336One of my most memorable moments of the trip exploring the Sacramento River came on the first raft trip taken early in the morning of my first day. While we were rafting, my guide, Lance Law, noticed an osprey diving into the river and coming up empty handed.  He told me to get ready and that the osprey would dive again in the same location. With this in mind, I made a few settings adjustments on my camera and trained it on the area where the previous dive occurred, and sure enough Lance was right! The osprey made a second dive, and this time it was more successful managing to grab a large fish from the river.

Osprey and fish 4000-150504-_7D_4358-2

I was ready and waiting, firing my camera as fast I could.

It was very exciting. I was able to follow the bird as flew in a large, lazy circle overhead giving me many photographic opportunities. I observed that the osprey was repositioning the fish in its talons as it flew this circle so that it could hold it in a more streamline fashion.

While I was photographing, Lance told me how he has observed this phenomenon numerous times before.  He believes the osprey stunned or injured the fish on the first try but was unable to make the capture, but has an easier time on the second dive while the fish is injured or stunned.

I was glad I was in the presence of such an experienced guide; otherwise I probably would have missed my opportunity to photograph this natural battle of predator and prey.