About this time every year the number of Ospreys that visit the Basin increases as adults and juveniles alike feed up for the long flight back to Sub-Saharan Africa. For the juveniles this is also a perfect opportunity for them to practise the fishing skills they’ll need to survive. However, whether or not they are ‘learning’ from the adults they fish with are still unknown.
Low tide is the best time to view this behaviour as this is when their main prey, the Flounder, are most accessible. But if you were expecting the elegant swooping down and flicking of the talons through the water normally shown in footage of raptors fishing you’ll get a bit of a surprise. It’s more of a talon and beak long dive into the water to grab this bottom dwelling fish, followed by large downward wing beats to pull both itself and its prey out of the water.
We’re yet to get full footage of this hunting behaviour on the Basin itself, and it’s not just because we’re too mesmerised to press all the right buttons. Ospreys hunting here are regularly mobbed by Gulls hoping to collect whatever fish that might be caught, and will regularly move from spot to spot before actually diving in an attempt to fish Gull free. But, as the footage in this blog shows, this mobbing can continue even when the osprey is half way through eating its catch.
Georgina Bowie (Visitor Centre Assistant)