Friday, April 8, 2011
This waterside bench at the Ballston Creek Nature Preserve near Ballston Spa proved to be the perfect ringside seat for witnessing a battle of giant birds today. A year ago, when I first visited this site, I discovered an active heronry here, with numerous nests holding Great Blue Herons, while one nest had been appropriated by a pair of ospreys. It was fascinating to watch the ospreys rear their two youngsters to the point where they left the nest. I was hoping I would find the ospreys resettling into their nest this spring.
And so they were. As soon as I moved from the shelter of the woods and arrived at the waterside clearing, I saw this osprey perched on the edge of the same nest they used last year.
A hundred yards or so to the right, I noticed a pair of Great Blue Herons perching on their own nest.
I settled onto the bench to observe the scene, and after a few minutes, the solitary osprey flew away.
While my eyes were still following that osprey, this heron landed on the osprey's nest and began dismantling it. Soon I saw it grab a stick and fly back to its own nest.
The herons appeared to work the osprey-nest stick into their own.
The heron then returned to the osprey nest and perched on the edge.
At this moment, the osprey came flying home, accompanied by its mate, one of them clutching something in its talons. I couldn't quite make out if that something was a fish or more nesting materials. With both ospreys screaming at it, the heron reared up in defense.
Here, the ospreys come in for the attack, attempting to drive the heron off their nest.
The heron soon flees.
One of the ospreys reclaimed its nest, although it didn't stay there long. Both ospreys flew off to a nearby tree, where they remained, calling loudly.
I made myself comfortable on that bench to see what would happen next. Here's the scene, with the osprey nest to the left of center and the heron nest way over to the right. The ospreys were perched in the tree to the farthest left, although they are very hard to see in this photo.