Young Osprey in Scotland ...

The youngsters are either getting ready for their first flight or have already left the nests in the Highlands of Scotland.

One year I was lucky enough to photograph some youngsters practising on their nest before their first flight.  They were beating their wings and flying up over the nest - just a couple of feet.  Then they'd go a little higher as their confidence was built up, their wings getting stronger and stronger.

Flexing wings

I don't know how many days they practised in this way as I was popping in periodically around photographing other species in the area.  Their cries echoed in the area as they ventured higher,  I assumed that the cries were a mixture of elation and fear ... but that's from my limited human perception.

Hovering on the wind

Their mother had left the area by now, she'd done her bit and it was up to dad to do the rest.  He'd left the nest too and would often perch in a tree close by calling to them, coaxing them, as if saying, 'Come on, fly - I know you can do it.'

Dad coaching

... And it did!  The first youngster left the nest ...

First flight

It only flew a short distance to a nearby tree ... but imagine the courage it took?  To leave a high nest, instinctively trusting in an unproven ability to fly and then to negotiate a landing on a different tree branch?  I'd say that's a 'brown trouser' moment.

First landing

Dad's work had just begun though ... the next stage was to teach them how to hunt.  A skill that he'd developed over a number of years with refinements made by each progressive generation.

Osprey hunting

They're still in the area, hunting, fattening up a little for their migration back to Africa.  Listen for their calls as they echo over the Cairngorms and enjoy their presence.

Be aware that some humans try to kill these amazing creatures.  If you see any dead osprey, or anyone acting suspiciously around a nest site, call the local police ... they'll want to hear about it.  Their phone number is (Confidential line) 01479 810121.

Happy viewing.

Villayat 'Wolf' Sunkmanitu

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