I always think that fledging is the most exciting part of any Osprey summer. Having watched the chicks grow up it is a special moment to see them flying for the first time.
If you were watching the webcam over the weekend, you’ll know that of the two chicks in the Manton bay nest, 8F – the male – was favourite to fly first. Yesterday he repeatedly ‘helicoptered’ up and out of the camera view; it was just a matter of time before he plucked up the courage to fly for the first time.
Sure enough, this morning, at 6:34am – after another bout of wing-flapping – he launched himself off the nest and into the air. His ever-attentive mother took off with him and shadowed him on several circuits of the nest. Having raised six chicks in the last two years she is well-aware of the hazards of the first flight. Once he had been in the air for about 30 seconds, 8F made a bee-line for the t-perch adjacent to the nest and landed with surprising skill. A few moments later Mum joined him on the perch. Suddenly he had a completely new view of the world; and his constant head-bobbing was a sure sign that he was taking everything in. He looked a little awkward at first but soon settled in to life on the perch, flanked by Mum and Dad.
Having successfully completed his first flight, there was no stopping the young male. Over the course of the next two hours he made another ten short flights around the bay. After an hour or so it was clear that he wanted to return to the nest – not least because 5R had just delivered breakfast there. The problem was he couldn’t quite work out how to do it. Twice he approached the nest too high to land there and instead alighted on the ‘french perch’ above it.
Eventually he got it right and landed with a bit of a bump next to 9F on the nest. He was too late to have a share of the fish, but clearly relieved to have got back to safety. He flopped down onto the middle of the nest and hasn’t really moved since. This flying buisness, it’s tiring you know!