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Nature's Best Photography: An osprey hits its prey

Peter Cairns / Nature's Best Photography

Ospreys are a major European conservation success story. The species has recovered from its endangered status, breeding near fresh and salt waterways throughout much of the continent—a clear indication that conservation efforts work. During summer months, these raptors may be seen hunting over rivers, lakes, and estuaries before diving into the water—talons outstretched—to catch their prey. Their diet consists mostly of fish, but can include snakes, frogs, and other animals. The osprey, along with wildlife comeback stories like the crane, wolf, and bear, proves that even on crowded continents, nature can adapt and flourish.

Photographer Peter Cairns says:
“These efficient predators are expert hunters and seize their prey with lightning speed and precision. While photographing near Kangasala and Tampere, Finland on assignment for the Wild Wonders of Europe project, one of my goals was to document this behavior. After countless attempts, I was finally able to capture the moment as this adult osprey plunged into the water, creating a massive explosion of droplets. I managed just this one frame that featured the drama of the fish trying to escape.”

Photographic information:
Camera: Canon EOS-1D Mark IIN; 300mm lens; 1/500 sec at ƒ/2.8; ISO 200; beanbag

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