It’s with great excitement that I write this blog following the announcement of such eagerly anticipated news, after two of our three chicks at Lowes fledged on Sunday evening! Both chicks’ behaviour from 4pm onwards hinted that the time had come, with plenty of wing stretching and flapping to be seen both from the hides and the webcam. The less active chick was unfortunately in the way of lots of ‘helicoptering’ behaviour from these two, and was landed on a couple of times during their short flights across the breadth of the nest! It was at 4.23pm that our female led the way, with the first chick FR3 taking flight at 4.24pm with a slightly downhill start before reaching the safe perch of a neighbouring tree.
Once one had fledged, the female made a few round trips from the nest whilst the other two chicks rested up and hungrily picked at stored leftovers. Recently the male has been delivering fish less frequently to encourage the chicks to fly. After an hour of rest, the second chick FR2 began to stir and stretch its wings once again, and at 5.36pm it flew the nest after lots of eager wing flapping, leaving the female and resting chick to watch on.
The third chick FR4 was beginning to show signs of its own fledging activity, ‘helicoptering’ around the now spacious nest, but it’s limelight was short-lived when the second chick to fledge made a surprisingly smooth return to the nest. They settled down together before the second chick became restless once again at 6.55pm and took off for a series of short flights, circling the nest for another 10 minutes.
It wasn’t until 8.20pm that the first chick to fledge reappeared at the nest, with a slightly clumsy touchdown after almost 4 hours away perched in a nearby tree. With all chicks present and well, and after fervent begging calls from the female, the male delivered a well-deserved fish to end their eventful evening.
While there have been no obvious hints of the third chick fledging, we have no reason to doubt that it too will be successful, which will make this year the first that 3 chicks have fledged at Loch of the Lowes since 2003. In the coming weeks we will expect the female to distance herself further as the chicks become more independent and able to feed themselves, and the chicks too will spend less and less time at the nest to perfect their flying skills and search for some long awaited personal space! Nevertheless, they will remain close by to ensure they don’t miss out on the male’s fish deliveries to the nest, and it won’t be until 11 or 12 weeks of age that they will be ready for their own migration, so we needn’t be ready to say goodbye just yet!
Volunteer Assistant Ranger.