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Carp diem! Osprey swoops to seize the prey... and lifts stunned-looking fish straight out of the water

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 12:11 GMT, 12 February 2014 | UPDATED: 14:28 GMT, 12 February 2014

This is the jaw-dropping moment that an osprey plucked a carp from a lake. At least, it was for his victim.

The hapless fish-out-of-water's mouth was left agape at the surprise at being snatched from his natural habitat and lifted high into the air.

Perhaps one should be wary of reading too much emotion in the facial expression of a fish, but this one was surely horrified at the prospect of becoming a bird of prey's next meal.

Marius Cepulis hid out in the reeds by the Birveta fishponds in Ignalina, Lithuania, for hours to capture the moment of the carp's demise - but nearly missed it after losing hope at the last second.

'I spotted an osprey hunting and so I took the chance to hide in the reeds hoping the bird would feed nearby,' said the 39-year-old photographer.

'I spent almost three hours next to the water with no result so disappointed I started to head back to my car.

'Suddenly I heard the voices of two ospreys and noticed one hovering in the air. He was taking no notice of me.

'At the same moment the bird dove into the water, I came out of the reeds to the open water to take a better position - kneeled, focused and all I had to do was press

As can be seen from Mr Cepulis's pictures, the osprey has a unique style of hunting. The birds of prey hover about 60ft above the surface of the water as they wait for the perfect moment to swoop.

As they dive, the plummeting birds switch at the last second to a feet-first position, for an impact that makes a bigger splash and may mean they disappear momentarily below the surface.

This osprey took no prisoners and with his mind solely focused on his catch, he wrestled the struggling fish from the water and carried it into a nearby forest at speeds of up to 80mph.

The graceful bird, with a wingspan of almost two metres, was one of a large number of ospreys in the eastern area of Lithuania that were using the lake to feed from.

The whole feeding process was over in just a matter of minutes, but it wasn't plain sailing for the bird who was forced to use all his hunting experience to whisk away his fish supper.

'The carp was so big that he spent just a few seconds keeping his head and wings above the water, trying to calm down the fish under the water,' said Mr Cepulis, from Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital.

'The carp was more than half of the bird's length so it was no easy catch. Other birds were catching fish, but their prey was much smaller.'

Marius has since won a Lithuanian national wildlife photography contest for the image, which he has titled 'A silent call for help'.

He added: 'It was a dream for me to take such a picture. What I like most is that is was not a setup. Birds are not fed there on purpose and they act naturally.

'I was very lucky to be in that exact time and place to capture such a moment.'

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