Young ospreys on the wing in Mid Wales

Posted on August 2, 2015 · Posted in Uncategorized

On 24th July, driving back to Bron y Llys from Llanidloes, I made a detour into the Hafren Forest to check on the Llyn Clywedog ospreys. I’d been away for a few days and I guessed the young birds would have made their first flights during that time.

The hide was open and the log book was on the bench so I looked back over the last few days’ entries – it seems the first flights were observed on 22nd July. But there wasn’t any flying practice during my brief visit. It was drizzling and all three youngsters were standing on the nest looking bored and disconsolate. Their mum kept watch from the top of another spruce tree just across the forest trail (three fully-grown young don’t leave much room on the nest, even when it has been expanded to become a flight-practice platform). One youngster did some wing-stretching and at one point clambered very clumsily along a branch that sticks up behind the nest, flapping vigorously the whole time to keep its balance. Its siblings looked bemused by this undignified performance. Just when it seemed the bird on the branch was about to take off, it thought better of it and clambered back down to the nest.

I dropped by again two days later but it was another wet day and again the youngsters showed no enthusiasm for flying. All three remained on the nest throughout the half-hour I was there. The female was sitting atop the same tree as on my previous visit.

I finally saw the young fly on 30th July, a dry, sunny day. The nest was deserted when I arrived but the two adult ospreys soon came into view pursuing a buzzard. Having seen off the buzzard, the female settled on her usual perch while the male glided to a tree that was unfortunately out of sight. Two youngsters then came flying over the trees, one landing in a spruce near the forest trail while the other chose to land on the nest. But it soon left the nest to join its sibling and they sat side by side on the same branch, often looking up as though expecting the third to appear. But I never saw the third youngster, which must have flown further afield. As the young extend the distance they are prepared to fly it will become less common to see them around the nest.

In a few weeks these young ospreys will be setting off for West Africa, independently of their parents and of each other. Assuming they survive the trials of migration they may return to Mid-Wales in two or (more likely) three years’ time when they are old enough to breed. Until then they will stay in West Africa.

But hopefully the adults will be back next spring to raise more Mid-Wales ospreys.