Jordan Lake, Haw River 16 minutes after the sun rose … I was tracking a male osprey as he came in over the dam and almost disappeared down into the shadows of the riprap and the sudden glare of the sun. I watched the osprey flare and snatch his fish and then the quiet morning exploded in osprey shrieks and great blue heron gronks. A large light grey shadow was closing in on the osprey. I don’t know if the heron had had an eye on the same fish as the osprey or that the heron took exception to the osprey disturbing his morning fishing. The osprey fled the river with his fish and out over the dam and the heron grumbled his way back to the riprap shoreline.

Jordan Lake Dam, Haw River: sometimes Mother Nature makes me heartedly laugh! This great blue heron appears to have special antennae just for locating fish. But joyful laugher aside, the plumes are there because it is the start of breeding season and he has put on his finery. The season is also why his chest plumes are so extravagant. The wind tossed those special feathers every which way. Those plumes almost caused the extinction of herons and egrets in this country: back when ladies wore elaborate hats and wanted those feathers to add to their perceived finery.

Jordan Lake Dam, Haw River: On a fishing dive, an osprey picks up a lot of water. Water is heavy at 8 pounds per gallon. The osprey is an efficient flyer so once it gains some height above the water, the bird does a shake to throw off the excess water and its weight. I love watching the shake start at the bird’s beak and finally flipping off at the end of its tail – just like a very wet dog. The bright morning light striking the scattering drops makes the osprey a sparkling sunburst.

Jordan Lake Dam, Haw River: Mom Osprey got herself a fish this morning. She hit the water, grabbed the fish and was gone out over the dam almost before I knew she was there! The glittering sunshine sure made her a brilliant brooch against the river.

Jordan Lake Dam, Haw River: Dear Momma Osprey!  Welcome back to your breeding home here at Jordan Lake.  You are always my reliable signal that Spring is just around the bend.  What a tremendous flight you have taken … more than 3000 miles from South America to North Carolina.  I am glad you had the endurance and good winds to get back here again!