Whilst it was great to see hawks and vultures, the bird of prey I particularly wanted to photograph was the Osprey. Obviously in the UK these birds are quite rare, and opportunities to photograph them quite specialised. Not so in Florida. Even 20 years ago in Florida I remember seeing them all over the place and remember commenting that they seemed as common as sparrows. Ironically, sparrows seemed to have declined since then - but there were still plenty of opportunities to see Ospreys in Florida.
My first opportunity to photograph Ospreys was as they few overhead whilst we were on the beach at Clearwater. I think they were flying to and from a nearby island where they famously nest (one for a specialist photographic trip rather than a family holiday).
The next opportunity was on one of my early morning visits to Gatorland. As I pulled the car into the car park just outside, I happened to look up to the top of a tree just the other side of the wall. At the top of the tree, bathed in early morning light, was an Osprey!! I couldn't believe my luck - although noticed that as I took photos, other photographers didn't - maybe an indication of the fact these birds are not seen as a rarity in those parts.
Later in the morning I managed to grab a single shot (cropped here) as the same bird started fishing in one of the large pools.
But the closest I got to an Osprey was when I was least expecting it - and it proved again the worth of carrying my camera and 100-400mm lens around with me, as they were taken whilst we were shopping!! Just as we were coming out of the Lego store at Disney Springs, an Osprey flew right overhead. I quickly lifted my camera and fired off a few shots - in many respects they are the photos I am most pleased with from the whole trip!!
For more images of these amazing birds please go to the Osprey gallery here.