9A took the giant step on Monday 4th August at 17.00. As space opened out beneath his feet he spread his wings, flapped valiantly, fixed his eyes on the horizon – and landed with a crash in the field a few yards from the nest. Psychologically he had been ready to take to the skies, following his brother, but sadly his soaring aspirations had been scuppered by his physical fitness.
Hatched on June 3rd he is now 9 weeks old (ospreys normally fledge at 7-9 weeks) and during the past few weeks he has been trying hard to build himself from his debilitating viral set back as a young chick. Exercise and eating have been his watchword. He has been increasing the strength and length of his flapping – but this has not been as impressive as his brother’s and it has left him quite exhausted after each session – falling asleep on his feet or lying down in the bottom of the nest. KL and Unring have backed him, both bringing him fish. Again, he should be easily managing to pull tough fish apart and feed himself but often Mum has had to come in and take over. However, we had hoped he might have a moment of glory and take off more or less successfully.
It was not to be and after his abortive first flight roosting on the grass was obviously only going to lead one way – down the throat of fox .So, one of the local farmers picked him up, keeping him safe for the night until the vet could come.
The vet has now examined 9A thoroughly and from this, although uninjured, it is apparent that he is not going to be flying anywhere much this season.
The feathers were of main concern as most of the secondary flight feathers showed deep stress marks running across them – areas of weakness and poor growth caused by the fluctuations of the infection. The vet felt that these feathers could easily snap if too much pressure was put on them.
On the plus side his legs were straight with good strong talons and nostrils, eyes and mouth and beak were all healthy and normal.
X-rays showed that he had weakness of the ligatures on the wrist bones of his right wing, and although this could strengthen over time it was clear he will need specialist care if ever he is to be re-habilitated to the wild. See https://www.facebook.com/MillcroftVeterinaryGroup?fref=ts
The National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Clackmannanshire has specialist raptor vets on call and the correct facilities, having dealt with many Scottish ospreys successfully, so 9A will be taken up there this week for further tests and hopefully, the road to rehabilitation. We will be kept informed of his progress.
In the meantime 8A is doing wonderfully well. He took his first trip to the Lake yesterday, first just dipping his toes in the water and then making a few plunges. It will not be long before he catches his first fish.