Bird of prey or pray?

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, August 25, 2022

Osprey returns to its nest, checks on family, heads out once more, and perches atop church bell tower. Photos: top centre by Ron Gobeil; all others by Warren Harbeck

An inspiring photo flew into my inbox the other day from fellow columnist Ron Gobeil, of Parksville, B.C. It was of an osprey (top centre in accompanying photo-collage).

“Several years ago, while residing in Osoyoos, BC, I took this photo while out on an early morning walk,” Ron wrote. “The Osprey paid not an iota of attention to us, and seemed only to be concentrating on some distant prey. I felt so blessed to be at the right place at the right time to witness nature at its finest.”

Ron wondered what my own interests were in this elegant raptor. Well, what a great start to a rewarding adventure!

Yes, I am very interested in ospreys. In fact, there’s an osprey family nesting at a location I visit frequently: the northeast corner of Cochrane Toyota, immediately across from St. Mary’s Catholic Church. But I hadn’t yet had a good visit with them this year.

Ospreys are famous for their fishing skills. And the trout-rich Bow River running through our community does not disappoint them.

Thus it was that I decided to pay our friendly neighbourhood bird of prey a visit the other day. No sooner had I arrived in the parking lot across from its nest, than Mr. Osprey came flying in.

By the way, thank you, Cochrane Toyota, for erecting the pole and nesting platform for the osprey, when the nest was not welcome on the nearby electrical transmission tower.

My photos, counter-clockwise from upper left, capture him approaching the nest, checking up on his family, then taking flight once more.

But was he heading back to his favourite fishing hole? Or was he heading just across the road, to perch atop the bell tower at St. Mary’s Church?

To prey? Or to pray?

Hmmmmm…. So often when I’ve gone under that bell tower to spend time in meditation in the chapel, our osprey friend has been up there, as if to remind me what ospreys have come to symbolize over the years.

Yes, clarity of vision! And in the chapel, though I hadn’t yet realized at the time what ospreys symbolized, I would often begin my meditation by silently singing to myself that traditional Irish hymn, Be Thou My Vision.

Now, how’s that for sacred serendipity!


© 2022 Warren Harbeck

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