Our Osprey chick Blue44 is 8 weeks old today and right on cue, he has fledged-we have lift off! As I was in the office writing the previous Blog post about the other eggs earlier today, I missed the initial excitement, so I will let Lindsey describe what happened:
“This morning we had an extended period of intruder activity with two adult Ospreys flying above the nest. We think they might be a pair from a nearby nest that has failed and are now out to annoy the neighbours. When they eventually left it got really exciting.
A short while later after a period of standing at the nest edge our chick, Blue 44, did a few bunny hops and wing flaps but it was nothing particularly spectacular like yesterdays vertical lifts. Then, with the minimum of fuss, he just stepped off the nest and into the air. For the first few seconds he seemed unsure what to do, landed briefly on a stick at the bottom of the nest before taking the plunge and flying off. He looked really strong and confident, as if he had been flying for a long time. He flew around the stretch of trees, a favourite flight route of this mother’s, twice and half way through the second lap he was joined by his dad and the two of them flew in parallel for a while. The chick then dropped down behind the nest tree and must have landed there as dad appeared on a nearby tree and looked like he was watching Blue 44. Both parents then roosted nearby looking unconcerned and it was like that for most of the day.”
When I heard the huge cheer from Lindsey and my fellow staff, I rushed out to the hides to see our wee chick fledge- just in time to catch him disappearing over the trees. I then spent the next wee while searching both sides of our valley looking along the shores of both local lochs for him, but its like looking for needle in a haystack- he is probably sitting happily in a tree somewhere, building up the courage to repeat the adventure. Osprey chicks can return to the nest within minutes of fledging or up to 24hrs later, so at this stage we are not worried about him as this is completely normal and not a sign of a problem like a crash landing. They generally come back when they are hungry or night falls. When the satellite next picks up his location from the tag (hopefully tomorrow) we will be able to follow his exact movements.
Lindsey tells me: “From four o’clock onwards there was more activity from both parents. They changed roosting spots and then both took to the air before swooping down behind the nest, presumably trying to encourage the chick back into the air. They also both returned to the nest where the male tried to mate with the female – he doesn’t mess about! He also got the cold shoulder from our female. Blue 44 is still out of sight but he’s clearly fine as his parents are not distressed in any way but do appear to be trying to encourage him to take his next flight back to the nest.”
What a day of excitement- and what a little star Blue 44 is! I, like so many of you, will be glued to the camera tonight to see when he makes it back to the nest.
Here is a great photo taken of the moment our wee chick first took flight, captured by a visitor Andrew Hine- many thanks for your kind permission to use it here.