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Posted In: Birding, James River

Battle over RVA: Eagle, Osprey engage in age-old pursuit

Andy Thompson

March 20, 2015 11:22am
Osprey with a fish downtown. Credit: Chris Johnson

Osprey with a fish downtown. Credit: Chris Johnson

After seeing the bald eagle article in Wednesday’s Times-Dispatch, local photographer Chris Johnson headed out in search of the avian predators on the James River. He didn’t find them on the nest on Cooper’s Island just upstream of Nickel Bridge, so he went down to the Floodwall in Manchester to see what was going on there. Meanwhile, I walked from my house to the Copper’s Island nest observation area in the 5100 block of Riverside Drive south of the James. Johnson hadn’t found them there, but I did. One came flying in from downstream just as Judy Self was arriving.

Self is an eagle lover who I met at this spot looking for eagles three years prior. She had her powerful spotting scope, and soon a crowd had gathered to ogle the bird (and then birds when a second one arrived). Even Ralph White was there.

After a few minutes, I received a text from Johnson downtown. “Just got a close range eagle/osprey fight!”

A bald eagle harasses the osprey until it drops the fish. Credit: Chris Johnson

A bald eagle harasses the osprey until it drops the fish. Credit: Chris Johnson

Those are the pics you see here. Johnson said that an eagle went after an osprey that had nabbed what looks like a shad. Eventually, the eagle won the battle and the osprey dropped the fish. All that was happening near the Floodwall while we were watching two eagles tend to either eggs or chicks a couple of miles up river.

How cool is the James River in Richmond?

About Andy Thompson

I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?