I was wandering towards the river this morning, following the old Red Bridges Road as it cuts across the wooded swamp behind my studio. The Choptank River runs along my property, and at this time of year, a number of fish species make their annual run up the river from the Chesapeake Bay to spawn. Right now, White Crappies, Herring, Shad and White Perch are in the river, heading towards their traditional spawning spots.
As I walked closer to the river, I could hear the call of several Ospreys. The wind was blowing, and bud-swollen branches clacked together around the old dirt road as I walked towards the loud calls of the Ospreys. Shortly, I could see them... a pair of fish hawks, wheeling above the river.
Suddenly, one of the pair folded it's wings and splashed into the shallow water of the Choptank. It quickly was airborne again, with a big silvery herring in it's grasp. Both of the birds headed downriver, towards their nest on a power line support. Soon they would be raising their brood in the big nest among the metal bars and wires. All spring and summer, these Ospreys will frequent the Choptank, taking fish from the shallow waters to feed themselves and their young.
The fish, however, will come and go. Perch are the most numerous, both Yellow Perch and White Perch. I catch a few, as do others. But the king of the fishermen is the Osprey, hovering and chattering over the river. It is always a pleasure to see them each spring, wondering what they will catch, and how their families will make out as Spring becomes Summer along the Choptank River.