Damariscotta Mills Alewife Run and Osprey

by John Briggs on May 8, 2010

in Bird Photographs, Bird Photography Weekly, Blog, Wildlife

I have been waiting for this time of the year all winter long. The alewife run at Damariscotta Mills, Maine is in full swing. It seems fitting that the day after classes ended for the spring semester, the alewives are running and the Osprey are many. Instead of books in hand, I am back with my old pal the camera. It’s great to become reacquainted with an old friend!

Damariscotta Mills, Maine

Damariscotta Mills, Maine

It was a cool and windy Friday morning, with clouds beginning to break up as a cold front pushed off the coast. Several hundred Gulls and a few Osprey greeted me upon my arrival and I could see plenty of alewives in the water. If I could see them, so could the Osprey.

The alewives make their journey from the Atlantic Ocean, swimming up the Damariscotta River estuary and into the Great Salt Bay before getting to the fish ladders that takes them into Damariscotta Lake. The photo above shows the area just below the fish ladders. Gulls, Double-crested Cormorants, Osprey, Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons and even an occasional seal or two patrol the Great Salt Bay and the areas leading to the ladders to feast on the alewife.

After setting up in my favorite spot, I waited for the action to commence. Because of the high winds, the Osprey were having problems hovering over the water to look for fish. When the Osprey dove to grab a fish, the wind would knock them off course and their were many “misses.” I had problems with flight shots, as I am still healing from two broken ribs suffered a few weeks ago. I mainly focused on the dives and the plunge into the water.

Several times throughout the morning, a Harbor Seal made its way into the area beside the parking lot. The Seal would swirl in circles, causing the fish to be stunned, and then gobbling them up as fast as it could. At times, during this swirl process, alewives would jump clear out of the water to escape the hungry seal.

Enjoy the following photos of Osprey fishing for alewives at Damariscotta Mills, Maine.

Some of the following photos are “tall” and those with smaller screens may not see the full size photograph after clicking a thumbnail. Hit your f11 key to open your browser window to it’s fullest size before clicking a thumbnail. Once a photo is open in the shadowbox, navigation arrows are at the bottom to go to the next photo.

Happy birding!



Steve B May 8, 2010 at 3:22 pm

John, these are absolutely awesome. How are the studies coming along?

Sharon May 8, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Hi John! I knew you'd be out there shooting the Osprey! Glad you finally have a chance to get reaquainted with your camera. Love it!

So whats the deal with the Hummingbirds? We've seen one and that's it. He was here one afternoon and we haven't seen him since. Hopefully there isn't some sort of health problem causing them not to return.

Muge May 9, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Excellent captures! Gorgeous shots!
My recent post Gri Balıkçıl (Grey Heron)

Mick May 9, 2010 at 4:03 pm

A really great series of photos! I like your description of the place as well.

Larry May 9, 2010 at 11:57 pm

Awesome shots John! It's great that Osprey are doing so well. It's hard to imagine that they were endangered at one time.
My recent post Cattle Egret In Portland On Mother's Day

Wren May 10, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Great photos, John. Osprey are among my favorite birds. Though we don’t see quite as many as you do here in Michigan, they are making a comeback.

Shelley May 10, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Amazing and exciting shots of the Osprey in action!! I hope your ribs are healing – it definitely didn't affect your picture taking! The Osprey is my hubby's favorite bird.
My recent post Stalking the Evening Grosbeak

Shelley May 10, 2010 at 11:19 pm

Amazing and exciting shots of the Osprey in action!! I hope your ribs are healing – it definitely didn't affect your picture taking! The Osprey is my hubby's favorite bird.
My recent post Stalking the Evening Grosbeak

Dawn May 11, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Awesome shots John! Sorry about your ribs..Ouch! Nice that you have a break and can pick up the camera again..I sure do miss you photos..

MaineBirder May 12, 2010 at 12:26 pm

Thanks for stopping by and commenting folks! It's greatly appreciated!

Lana May 12, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Great osprey shots! Thanks for sharing. :)

Larry Jordan May 13, 2010 at 6:24 am

Awesome captures of the Osprey John! One of my all time favorite raptors! The first three shots are incredible. You have the best Osprey photos I have seen anywhere and I love to see you back. Those huge fish hook talons are amazing aren't they?
My recent post Cliff Swallows Engage In Extra-Pair Copulations

Robin Robinson May 13, 2010 at 12:02 pm

The osprey are always a blast to shoot, and so are the gulls and sometimes eagles there. Have you seen good warblers there? In years past I have seen lots feedingon the insects in in the shrubs from dead fish on the shore. Everybody gets into the action there! I bet the night photography of racoon, skunks fishers, and who knows what else must be great too. The power in the opspreys wings and shoulders is so awesome, even from the back! Glad you're enjoying yourself now sprung from the classroom, RRR
My recent post You May Call Me 'Cleopatra -Queen Of The Mud Flats!' – Glossy Ibis & Co.

Monica May 17, 2010 at 3:59 pm

John- I was hoping to get up to Damariscotta for the alewives this year and I'm wondering if it's too late? It's not like it's posted in the newspaper (ha, ha). Any help appreciated. I wanted to take grandson to see this. Any chance we'll see them this week (May 18-20)? Thanks! Monica

Monica May 19, 2010 at 7:27 pm

BTW, there were quite a few 'ducks' across the road by the railroad trestle. Any idea what they were? Dark brown, long-bodied when they flew off. I really need a birding class!

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