Osprey in the Mist

An osprey rises with a gizzard shad from the misty Meramec River at sunrise.

Most of my mornings over the last few weeks have been spent searching for ospreys along the Meramec River. Every fall we get a short window in Missouri where migrating ospreys can be observed fishing along our streams.

Once I spot an osprey, I observe its behavior over the course of several mornings to figure out its favorite feeding sites and perches. After watching the osprey in the featured image for over a week, I set up this morning on a gravel bar, almost in the middle of the river, determined to get a shot of the raptor on its favorite perch, a dead sycamore branch.

I arrived before daylight and found even more steam than usual rising from the warm river. As you can see from the image, I could barely discern the water from the sky. Shortly after I settled into my turkey chair, I heard the cry I was waiting for as ospreys always call when they take flight. This one came from upriver behind me and landed in a sycamore high above to my right. After about 30 minutes of staring intently at the river, the osprey dived from its perch and splashed down in front of me. By the time I could establish focus in the fog, it had already caught a shad and was ascending from the water. That’s when I made the featured image.

The osprey took its catch, a gizzard shad, to another perch, high in a sycamore, way out of range. I watched it with my binoculars as it tore its breakfast apart for about 30 minutes. Just as I began thinking I might not get another shot, a second osprey came in and tried to steal the first one’s catch. That’s when it flew over to the dead sycamore branch I was watching. Yes!

As the osprey did a one-legged landing on the branch, I dialed in two full stops of overexposure to account for the bright morning sky. The resulting image left the sky the palest of blue and the osprey perfectly exposed. Success!


Far above the steam from the river, the osprey lands on a dead sycamore branch, the very one I had set up on before daylight. Score!


An image of the osprey from a few days ago when I was set up too close, almost underneath the sycamore branch.

The image above was taken a few days ago when the osprey landed right over my head. It was then that I decided to get a better angle on the dead sycamore branch from that point on.

During my osprey encounter this morning, I was able to implement several of the techniques that I just taught in a three-hour workshop as a guest instructor for a photography field techniques class at St. Louis Community College. Those techniques included: scouting for the shot; best point of view; camouflage; exposure compensation; understanding your subject; working with light; focusing on birds and flight; and many other skills. Maybe I was fortunate those techniques were fresh in my mind.

Happy Naturing!


Note:  I’ve restored the “comments” button with this edition and I’ll work harder to reply in a timely manner.

Email:  Natureframes@Rocketmail.Com

Website:  https://dannybrown.smugmug.com or just Google “Danny Brown Photography.”

America is beautiful. I vote to keep it that way.





4 comments on “Osprey in the Mist”

  1. Danny,
    More unbelievable pictures!! You are unreal!! All the effort you put into scouting really pays off which I’m sure is extremely gratifying for you. I’m getting ready to buy my new camera but I want to talk to you first. I have several questions and I know you will have all the answers. Is there a better time to call so we can talk a little?

  2. What an incredible shot, Danny. Your Persistent n perseverance , always pays off. Thanks for sharing your beautiful pictures of nature. Love it.

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Thanks Art. Hey, by the way, an image of the barred owls from your back yard at your old place will be part of a feature story I have coming out in Missouri Conservationist next issue.

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