Florida can dish out some turbulent, unpredictable weather—but also offer some intriguing avian behavior.
For photographer Ken Rohling, what seemed like a torrential downpour ruining his day at the lake one Saturday afternoon turned into sunny skies—and a rare shot of a red-winged blackbird “surfing” on an osprey.
Don’t believe it? He’s got the photos to prove it.
The avid landscape and wildlife photographer has been shooting since age 6, when his dad gave him an “ancient fold-up Kodak” and often took him to the zoo to snap animals.
During this particular recent trip to the lake, Rohling spotted an osprey, which had deftly snatched a fish from the water and was making a desperate bid to find a perch to eat the fish—before losing it to some opportunistic eagle or rival osprey.
“I knew he was going to land, and likely on the power pole just ahead of me,” Rohling told The Epoch Times.
“So, I pulled the car up past him and quickly bailed from the car. I grabbed the camera and tripod, and got it set up just after he landed with his fish.”
He got shots of the osprey starting to tuck into his lunch, but then noticed the raptor was not alone.
(Courtesy of Ken Rohling)
A few highly territorial red-winged blackbirds, which had a nest nearby, were determined to drive off the larger winged intruder.
“They began a relentless dive-bombing campaign against him that lasted for 10 or 15 minutes,” said Rohling. “They would fly high above him, and then dive down and either strike him in the head, or grab small feathers and pluck them out.”
The scuff did afford Rohling a rare opportunity to capture the birds as they collided, including shots of a red-winged blackbird appearing to piggyback the osprey!
“Except for a few attempts to snap at the blackbirds, or flap them off of his wings, the osprey just tried to ignore them and continued eating,” the photographer said.
“He never got to eat all of his fish, but he ate enough of it to make his tummy comfortable enough to where he was no longer willing to tolerate the abuse.”
At last, the smaller birds drove off the larger one.
The encounter ended well for all: the osprey got away with his fish; the blackbirds’ nest was left undisturbed; meanwhile, Rohling got a few memorable photos of some remarkable avian activity.