On the first Sunday morning of autumn, I found myself standing beside a pond on the Toronto Islands, a beautiful green sanctuary on the city’s waterfront. All was quiet, except for the twittering of a few birds. Suddenly, a huge shadow swept over me, and I looked up to see the white underside of a pair of long, broad wings.
It took a moment to recover from the surprise, and another to put a name to the picture. The bird settled itself onto a prominent branch of a big poplar tree about 50 metres away. A large, brown body, a white head — bald eagle? No, an osprey, the hawk of the northern lakes, passing through on its way south to haunt the waterways of Florida till spring. Luckily, the Nikon P900 camera I’d brought along has a zoom long enough to pull in almost anything, so I zoomed in and started to shoot.
Ospreys are expert fishermen, plunging into the water to grab their prey with long legs and sharp talons. And this one had found a likely spot to get a little breakfast. It sat still, eyeing the waters of the pond for an unwary fish. But this was no cottage country lake, and the pickings were slim. And the air was full of unfamiliar noises, people cycling by and planes roaring overhead from the cursed airport nearby. After a while, I knelt down to take a few shots of the pond, and when I looked up, the osprey was gone.
Fall is a wonderful time of year for those who love birds, and especially hawks. The migration brings thousands of them to our skies each year, on a timeless annual trek that covers huge parts of the planet. Sometimes they arrive in flocks, sometimes in pairs. And sometimes a solitary bird makes the long flight all by itself, like this osprey, stopping now and then to look for its next meal before pushing on. Winter’s coming — those southern lakes are waiting.
Note: click on the photo to see it full-size. You can read my review of the P900 in this post.