Flying in the wind

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!

Author: BeckyB

It's a good life walking, cooking, photographing, volunteering, reading, blogging, and best of all spending time with family, friends & the cat!

34 thoughts

  1. Interesting that not many in Spain too. Perhaps they appreciate the cooler summers of Wales and Scotland. Had a wonderful trip to Rutland once too, and good views there. Hope all good for you. We have just got back to UK so busy seeing family.

  2. They’re not as big as you think when you see them in the same photo as an American Herring Gull that is trying to get the fish of an Osprey.

      1. Yeah, don’t see them all the time but anywhere along the coast there are nest towers built for Osprey nests so they don’t build nests on electricity infrastructure. If you know where they are hang out long enough and you’ll see one or two, even a young one every now and then πŸ™‚

  3. If you don’t already know about it Becky there’s a great osprey webcam in Scotland here –
    https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/osprey-cam/
    Three chicks were hatched over the last couple of days in May and first couple in this month, as I type this – 10.20am – two chicks can be seen just in front of mum. Round about 10.30 is feeding time and it looks like she’s waiting for dad to bring the breakfast back. Watching this is a great way of wasting some time πŸ™‚

  4. Seen them in France,Western Australia,Pacific coasts of north and South America,Thailand,but so far not the Ria Formosa.
    What has been a surprise this year is the numbers of Flamingos and Spoonbills,possibly flourishing with sparcity of people.

    1. oh wow how amazing – fingers crossed you can add Ria Formosa to the list this winter.

      and wonderful to hear the Flamingos and Spoonbills are doing well

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