A trip to a local nature reserve to photograph a green heron transformed into something much more for bird photographer Andy Woo. Two years ago, Woo joined a friend on a mission to photograph the heron, only to witness an incredible feat of agility by an osprey. His photo of the osprey barely grazing the water, with its reflection in perfect symmetry, has now become one of his most popular images.
As a bird photographer, Woo knows that he always needs to stay on alert and scan his surroundings for something interesting. That particular day, he was in for a real treat when the osprey made its appearance. “The osprey showed up without warning, dipped, and was back on the trip within the span of roughly 15 seconds,” Woo tells My Modern Met. “The skim itself was over the span of roughly one second, so that part was literally ‘you blink and you'll miss it.'”
The spectacular performance by this bird of prey happened at the end of its regular hunting routine. These adept hunters mainly eat fish, and they will dive into the water feet first to snatch up a meal. While they are typically quite successful with their dives, Woo notes that this time, the osprey came up empty-handed.
“Although I couldn’t figure out what just happened at the time, in looking at the sequence I captured, it looks to me like the osprey tried to grab a fish out of the water, missed, and then could not get enough lift to quickly get back in the air,” he shared.
Though Woo knew that he'd captured something special, he never could have guessed that the image would take off like it has.
“When I first posted this photo two years ago, I was pretty amazed at how well it did on Instagram, but I didn't know it would take off on a life of its own,” he admits. “Without me knowing it—in most cases—it kept getting reposted and forwarded elsewhere. I am grateful to friends and even complete strangers who have reached out to let me know that my photo showed up here and there. All in all, I'm just amazed and flattered by everyone's appreciation of this photo.”
Woo hopes his image will encourage others to get out into nature and appreciate the wildlife that surrounds them. He's quick to point out that his photo of the osprey was taken at a nature reserve that was very close to where he was living at the time and that it was on the outskirts of an urban environment. To him, this proves that you don't have to travel for hours to remote locations in order to see birds do incredible things.
In 2020, bird photographer Andy Woo had an incredible experience with an osprey.
After a failed hunting attempt, Woo photographed the osprey skimming the water.
Today, the unexpected photo is one of his most popular.