Pieter’s Lens – An Osprey Sighting in Brattleboro


by Pieter van Loon, VLT forester — You know what’s great about the conserved Retreat Farm in Brattleboro? Just about everything. Sure, it is over 450 acres of conserved forestland, farmland, and water—right in the heart of the seventh largest town in Vermont. But, one of the best things about it from my point of view is it’s two minutes from my office.

After a very long day indoors, looking jealously out on people who were enjoying a gorgeous dog-day of summer, I felt the need to spend a little time outside, recharging. I drove to the Retreat Meadows boat launch area on Route 30 and pulled out binoculars, camera, and spotting scope—the tools of a devout bird nerd.

The first birds I saw were pretty ho-hum, Canada geese and a goldfinch feeding in the wrack. Ho-hum.


I was about to leave when a large bird took off from the island in the center of the Meadows. I first thought bald eagle, but a look through the binocs revealed an osprey. After about 30 seconds of watching it gain altitude and quietly encouraging it to come towards me, closer, closer, I dropped the binocs in favor of the camera. It came a bit closer and then tucked its wings and dove.

osprey diving

splash from osprey dive

And while it came up empty-taloned, I marveled at the eyesight of a bird that can see a fish from 130 feet up and has the skill and courage to dive headlong at 80 mph in hopes of getting a meal.


osprey empty talons

Want to see Retreat Farm for yourself? Bring your own binocs to VLT’s Annual Celebration at Retreat Farm on September 30. The woods will still be hosting migrating songbirds. You can sharpen your “confusing fall warblers” skills. The water will have plenty of geese and waterfowl. Look up and you might see some raptors migrating south as the West River and Connecticut River are common migration routes. See you on the 30th!

About Pieter’s Lens: Not only does Vermont Land Trust forester Pieter van Loon know his trees, but he is also a great photographer and observer of wildlife. We asked Pieter to share what he sees in the field as he visits land conserved with VLT. Take a walk in the woods with Pieter by following #PietersLens on our social sites