Flying fish


Problem month: Unlike my usual ten or so postings a month, for the last thirty days, I made only one. The blog, itself, vanished, and even when it was restored, the subscriber emailer did not work. Add to this, interminable thick wildfire smoke blanketed the area making eyes burn and breathing difficult. (I fled to the Coast.) Further, local covid cases skyrocketed. It has been a difficult month. Sigh…, with this posting, the blog, mailings, and I seem restored.

More than any other bird, the Osprey is the symbol of Kootenay Lake. It is numerous and highly visible during the warm season as it fishes and nests over and adjacent to the waters. If you head out on the Lake in the summer, or even walk its shore, an inquisitive eye treats you the sight of an osprey hovering over the water, diving, lifting fish from the water, and flying off with it to feed its young.

This leads to a summer of flying fish, many of which are headless.

Ospreys and humans have had a long relationship, certainly since European settlers started driving pilings in the shallows, and possibly earlier. Ospreys like the easy access to the Lake that humans provide by building dolphins and erecting pilings. They find these human structures propitious for their nests. Mind you, while ospreys tolerate human presence, they chirp their objections if people happen to get too close to what they perceive as their nest-bearing structures. Oh well, they are fun to watch.

The relationship did not always go as well as it does now. When I was a child, my family was horrified when louts would set nest-bearing pilings afire so as to incinerate osprey chicks. (The pilings at Troup still bear the scars of those fires.) The motivation for this bit of vandalism was apparently the assumption of local fishermen that the ospreys were stealing all the good game fish, and these were fish the humans wanted for themselves. 

Apart from the inherent injustice of this behaviour, it relied upon a faulty assessment of osprey activities. Osprey generally grab the easiest prey, and those tend to be the slowly swimming suckers. Suckers are not the good-eating fish that fishermen seek. However, the facts did not stop humans from demonizing osprey believing that they favoured trout and Kokanee. Sigh….

Here are two pictures of flying suckers taken this last week.


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5 Responses to Flying fish

  1. birthe says:

    It is indeed or has been a difficult month. Glad you, the blog and the photos are back

  2. Trevor Goward says:

    Hi Alistair
    Actually, I came within a gnat’s eyelash of writing to let you know your postings were much missed, whatever lay behind the long silence. Relieved to know that you, like many of us, are now on the downhill slide off a difficult summer. Take good care

  3. Volans says:

    I remain hooked on the feeling of flying fish. From my reading, flying horses are quite familiar, galloping as fiery-footed steeds. The only fish I have ever seen entering the next sphere turn out to be merely breaching. I have never seen a flying fish. And I still haven’t. This post is testimony to the rot and anxiety which sets in in a month with only one post of inspiration.

    • Alistair says:

      Doug, and if I said that I flew to Toronto, would you assume that I must have flapped my arms, or that I was conveyed by an airplane? So, it is with flying fish: they tend to be conveyed by a flying bird.

  4. Mary Williams says:

    My favorite raptor and so glad that you came back with awesome photos of my favorite, the Osprey! I made a trip to a Lake south of where I live in Missouri and was able to get pictures of the Osprey. Not as awesome as yours but that’s okay, it made me happy!

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