Wednesday, 1 July 2009

One down, one to go

On Friday morning I was watching the nest with a group of visitors. Both chicks were there and one was very active, flapping its wings and preening. This wasn't unusual and when I took the afternoon trip down to our forward hide I expected to see something similar. But no, there was only one chick. I scanned the branches around the nest to see if the chick was there. Nothing! Later, Skye, the male Sea Eagle appeared sitting in a larch tree well below the nest. I'd never seen him there before, and he seemed to be looking down at the ground most of the time.

The other chick seemed to be quite happy by itself on the nest, alternately exercising and feeding. I stayed on at the hide after the visitors had left, but eventually I had to leave, albeit reluctantly. Skye remained in position, but there was still no sign of the missing chick.

Saturday came and went with good views of Frisa and the chick in the nest, but still there was no sign of the "fledged" chick. Wherever it was, it seemed likely that Skye was watching over it as he didn't put in an appearance all day.

By Sunday we were beginning to get quite worried, and on Monday when there was still no sign of our fledged chick we were beginning to fear the worst. It was my day off, but I couldn't stay away - I was desperate to know if our chick was still alive. Maybe it had fallen and injured itself. Skye still hadn't appeared so we were hopeful that he was guarding his chick.

On Tuesday morning I arrived at the hide early and put up the scope to scan the trees around the nest. The visibility wasn't great, but there, at the top of one of the sitka spruce trees was a strange dark shape. Zooming in I realised it was our chick. It was sitting very awkwardly with one wing at an angle to its body. If this had been its first proper flight it obviously needed to practise its landing skills. I couldn't tear myself away - was it our chick? There was no white on its tail, no flash of yellow on its beak. I was sure it wasn't one of our adults, but struggled to convince myself that I was really seeing the fledged chick. The other chick was still on the nest, and seemed quite happy exercising and feeding on whatever delicacy the adults had brought for it.

When I arrived back at the hide with the first trip of the day I checked the scope - the fledgling had gone. It didn't appear for the rest of the day, and I was beginning to doubt my earlier sighting. Later in the afternoon the RSPB officer Dave, who holds a licence which allows him to get closer to the nest, spent some time in the woods below the trees and after a while managed to hear two chicks calling, one on the nest, and one further away. Whilst he was there Frisa, the female came in and landed.

The fledged chick hasn't put in another appearance yet, but at least we know we still have two chicks. We haven't seen Skye either, so he must be perched near the fledgling making sure it is safe and well fed. The chick's sibling is still on the nest making the most of the extra space, and being able to eat as much as it likes without having to share.

I can't say we're relaxed about the fledgling yet, but Frisa seems to be her normal self, and we have heard no alarm or distress calls from adults or chicks. Watch this space.....

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