Critically endangered in Portugal and on the amber list in the UK, we have been fortunate to see these incredible birds more than once in the Algarve. Until the end of the 20th century Ospreys regularly nested in the south west of Portugal, but these days if you see one it is most likely to be a migrant in transit or an over-wintering bird. The Ria Formosa fortunately remains an important and favourite over-wintering location for them.
I have only ever known them called Ospreys, but other common names include sea hawk, river hawk and fish hawk. Their Latin name is Pandion haliaetus, and their Portuguese name is Águia-pesqueira.
If you have never seen an Osprey before they are large raptors, with a wingspan of around 5 to 6ft. The white head is a clear sign that these are fishers, in fact 99% of their diet is fish. They hunt during the daytime by diving from a height of 30 to 100ft to the water’s surface and plucking the fish from the water with their claws. I’ve seen one dive but have yet to capture a shot of them plucking the fish. I have though managed to capture one in flight with its supper. You will note the fish head is facing the direction of travel. It is deliberate as it reduces the wind resistance for the osprey!