Abigail Mustard has joined the Osprey Team this week for a work experience placement. Read on for her account of her shift at Site B yesterday!
On Tuesday I accompanied Ken on his usual shift up at Site B and little did we know that this shift would become very exciting. As with all the shifts I have done at Site B the weather was gloriously warm and sunny!
Ken and I arrived at the shed and decided to enjoy the good weather by setting up the telescopes and chairs outside – why waste it? After locating the nest with the telescopes we found the juveniles, 6K(14) and 7K(14), sitting on the nest and 03(97) sitting on the T-perch, with the female absent.
After half an hour 7K, the larger juvenile, became restless and decided to stretch her wings. After attempting to land on flimsy tree branches either side she returned to the nest to join her brother, 6K! 7K has become more confident on the wing as she was flying further away from the nest, whereas juvenile Ospreys’ first flights tend to be just a short circuit, staying close to the nest.
At 09.00 the female arrived back, and presented the juveniles with a small bream, which John, who had just arrived, confirmed. When the chicks are ready to fledge the females are not tied to the nest and will catch fish to build up food reserves ready for the migration to West Africa. The two juveniles didn’t waste any time in digging in to the small meal their mother had brought back, although 7K got in there first and ate most of it! It wasn’t long before they were both food begging again! The female gave in and headed off south towards the reservoir and we didn’t see her again for the rest of the shift.
At 10.15 came the event that made our shift so exciting. One of the juveniles took off and it wasn’t 7K! Ken and I had just witnessed the fledging of 6K!!! We were elated – neither of us had seen a chick fledge before and it was a moment that will stay in both of our memories. The flight itself lasted a minute with the landing back on the nest being slightly ungainly, as he landed on the back of 7K who became sprawled underneath him! That was humorous to watch!
About an hour later 6K had the confidence to fly again and made several short flights, this time landing on the nest instead of 7K!
As always the shift went too quickly, and it was time to head back through the fields, with one final glance at the nest, leaving both juveniles on the nest, 03 on the T-perch – just like we found them this morning.