Fishing Line

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) actively looking for fish.

I went to the dam at the Guana-Tolomato-Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTM NERR) to try to get pictures of Osprey catching fish. The dam has an outlet from Guana Lake to the Guana River and the fish hang out on both sides of this outlet. The fishermen flock to this place and so do the birds. Its a better place to try to get pictures of osprey in action than a kayak. Trying to focus on a swiftly moving bird diving into the water after a fish while in an unstable craft is challenging. I thought standing on stable ground at the dam would be promising.

I was not disappointed in the opportunities to get a picture, but I was disappointed in my results. It was joy to be outdoors on a great day taking pictures. It will not be torture to return again and again to work on getting the great picture I strive for. I’ve included a couple okay ones here. I am hoping to capture a sequence of pictures that shows the osprey rotating the fish so that it is face forward. Osprey always align the fish after catching it.

While at the dam, I got a phone call from a friend. While chatting with her, I noticed a tern struggling in the water. I hung up, ran to my car to get my net, and ran to where I thought the bird was headed. By the time I got there, a fisherman had reeled the bird in and was trying to untangle it from fishing line. He was struggling to hold the bird, who was not happy, while also untangling the line. I netted the bird and held it still, keeping its beak from inflicting damage while the fisherman untangled the bird. It was a success and the bird took off after a short hesitation to catch its breath. Although I would have been able to help without the net, it made things much easier. I am glad I carry it in the car.

Royal tern (Thalasseus maximus). It may or may not have been the one that got entangled in fishing line.

When I returned home to go through my pictures, I noticed several pictures of birds touching fishing line. While taking the pictures, I did not notice the line. Although the birds were touching the line, they were usually not getting tangled and were able to fly away. Clearly, sometimes they get entangled.

Royal tern with fishing line against its right wing. It did not get entangled on this effort.
Gull fishing. Notice the fishing line horizontally in the picture and just touching the birds right foot.

I also may have an answer to how the laughing gull I photographed about a week ago (blog post here) got a broken bill. The cement around a portion of the dam where the fish are gathered slopes into the water. I saw a tern dive for a fish where the cement lies under the water. If a bird dove too far, it would hit the cement with its beak.

While I was photographing the birds fishing, the fisherman nearest me caught a fish. He was happy to have me take his picture, a Filipino man with a fish. His name was Noli and he jokingly asked if he would be in National Geographic. I said “no, but he could be in my blog post”. He smiled. I noticed that when the fishermen could not social distance from non family members, they wore masks. Noli was not wearing a mask, but he was being safe and I was able to capture his smile. I had my telephoto lens on the camera, so we were clearly social distancing.

Noli with his recent catch.

I watched this boat-tailed grackle steal a fisherman’s bait fish.

Boat-tailed grackle (Quiscalus major) eyeing a fisherman’s bait fish.
Boat-tailed grackle as a successful thief.

I captured a short video of the red-bellied woodpecker rescue who hides from me behind his branch when I clean his cage and feed him. He keeps peeking out from behind the log. Yesterday, I meant to get video but failed to press the correct buttons and got a picture of a log in a cage. You will find this video more interesting.

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