Lifescapes Gallery

16 / Nov / 2011
The Kabini Talon Hunt
Osprey, Kabini Photograph: Dr. Ajit Huilgol Story: Rajesh Ramaswamy

The Kabini Talon Hunt

In this age of reality shows and talent hunts, there’s somebody who’ll fly away with all the honours if there was to be a test of cross-terrain adaptability for the animal kingdom. When it comes to hunting in the waters of the Kabini, the Osprey, or Fish Eagle, prefers to let his talons do his talent justice. Blessed with reversible outer toes to take a firm grip, and razor sharp talons with backward facing scales that lock into the most slippery fish, this denizen of the skies doesn’t just get his feet wet in the river, but gets them to conjure up a scrumptious meal too. Our feathered hero, however, doesn’t set store by blind dates for dinner, and prefers to depend on his unique vision that lets him spot an underwater meal from as much as 40 meters above surface level. He then tucks his wings partially back and throws those wickedly sharp talons forward, extending them to eye level, and dives before emerging with a plump fish, ready for the table. If the catch is particularly large, he rests awhile on the surface, almost like a surfer taking a breather. When he takes off, he takes the surf imagery into another spatial dimension; he uses his talons to turn the fish – head facing forward – to improve the aerodynamics, and thus creates an illusion of wind-surfing. It’s not always one-way traffic though, and there are instances when the Osprey bites off more than it can chew. Observers in Kabini have seen the odd Osprey dragged under by fish too large to lift, and drowned because his talons were enmeshed in the scales, and he couldn’t disengage in time. As is true of warriors everywhere, this is illustrative of the real possibility that ‘he who lives by the talon, also dies by the talon!’

We at Orange County have loved sharing this story with you, and shall bring you one every fortnight, as part of our Responsible Tourism Initiatives to raise awareness about the nature and culture of the environments we operate in.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 16th, 2011 at 4:56 am and is filed under Birds . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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User Comments
  1. Shankar says:

    Excellent shot, Ajit; and great story as ever. I took a shot of an Osprey at Kabini… Image URL is . please check it out.

  2. Anu Elisha says:

    The clarity and details in this photograph, takes your breath away! And the writeup… beautifully written (as usual) 😉 I love the titles. They are always very amusing, and sooooo apt 😉

  3. Sujit says:

    Brilliant, as usual. We so look forward to each issue!

  4. Dr.Bishan Monnappa says:

    Lovely Image with excellent exposure, details and freeze.And lovely narration too!

    • Daniel says:

      One more note on spotting the osprey. The best angle to see the female on the nest is to look back toward the nest from the Gibbons Creek Trail near the rest stop by the sign post with all the bird photos (a little before you get to the Columbia River Dike Trail).

  5. Sameer R. Rao says:

    Superb image and narration and as usual Vikram has added his informative comment.

  6. K.R.Kumar says:

    A wonderful story, beautifully written and capped with some magnificent photography.Awaiting your next story.

  7. Kannan .K.V. says:

    Wow the Osprey is one Awesomesprey!!! What a bird and what a picture!!! Superb narration has given this bird a great image. Goodwork, please keep it up.

  8. Yazdi Patel says:

    Received the lovely picture of an eagle carrying a fish that is grasping for breath. I enjoy all the pictures sent by you at Coorg & Kabini.Thanking you & awaiting many lovely pictures.

  9. Sandeep Somayaji says:

    Awesome Pics. Great Job.

  10. Vikram Nanjappa says:

    Ospreys often indulge in “ foot dragging” – a common sight in Kabini – ie wetting their feet while in flight , but not only after feeding when presumed to be a cleaning function but otherwise too , possibly also serving as a cooling or a displacement activity.They are winter visitor to Kabini
    and breed along the Himalayas in the summer ( March – April ). They bathe frequently – up to 15 minutes – they dip their head and breast in shallow water then vigorously beats their wings. They also plunge into water from low heights to apparently cool off .Much time is also spent in meticulous preening and oiling of feathers.They are generally silent during the winter.

  11. VIMAL V.PATEL says:


  12. jyoti aggarwal says:

    good work

  13. Sudhir Shivaram says:

    Excellent narration along with a great image. Superb exposure and details there Ajith. Lovely capture indeed!!!

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