What a fabulous bank holiday weekend! It’s been so busy at the Lyndon Centre, particularly in the lovely sunshine of yesterday, and this afternoon when it eventually came out. Yesterday evening was the first osprey cruise of the season, and it was a great trip, albeit a bit windy out there on the water! We had a lovely view of two ospreys displaying to each other in the north arm.
The chicks in Manton Bay are enormous compared to the tiny things that popped out of their eggs just two weeks ago! The growth rate of ospreys always amazes me – over the next week they will start getting their pin feathers, another two after that and they will be ringed, then two weeks later they will be ready to fledge!
At this stage the chicks take on a sort of reptilian look, and comments have often been made that they like dinosaurs. This is closer to the truth than we might think, as birds are incredibly closely related to the dinosaurs.
It was the discovery of the primitive bird Archaeopteryx in Germany in the nineteenth century that first led to the belief in a close relationship between birds and dinosaurs. They share many features, including hollow bones, gastroliths (also known as gizzard stones) in the digestive system, and several behaviours such as nest building and brooding young. Fossils of dinosaurs have also been found with preserved feathers. It has been discovered that birds and the T-Rex are more closely related to each other than either are to alligators – reptiles who evolved in the cretaceous period.
Of course, by next week these young ospreys will be looking a lot more like birds!