The Osprey chicks of summer 2019 - Biggie & Tiny

Guest blogger Alasdair McKee, osprey enthusiast and volunteer at Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve, gives a recap of the osprey chicks' lives so far.

When the two osprey chicks at Cumbria Wildlife Trust’s Foulshaw Moss reserve were ringed, chick number one (Blue 3N), affectionately known as Biggie, was the largest we’d ever seen!

An adult male osprey weighs 1500 to 1700 grams. Females are about 15% bigger. Even so, at only 6 weeks, this lass was already 1810 grams.

This may be because only two of three eggs hatched. Eggs are laid at two-three day intervals. Egg 2 failed, so there were 5 days between the two hatchlings.

Foulshaw Ospreys - 3 eggs with adult male osprey White YW - 2019

Biggie ( Blue 3N )  had a real head start on her little brother who, not surprisingly, was nicknamed Tiny ( Blue 2N ). Tiny had a rough time of it. His big sis was growing fast and not in a mood for sharing.

When dad brought a fish in and mum was doling it out, Biggie made sure that she got the lion’s share. And the next lion’s share.

Poor Tiny got some nasty pecks and even the occasional worrying where he was grabbed and shaken about.

He soon learned though. If he waited until greedy guts had had her fill, she would settle down to sleep it off and he would have a chance.  

Foulshaw Ospreys adult feeds chicks in the nest 2019

When Tiny was weighed he was a very healthy 1430 grams, spot on for a male of his age. He just looked tiny next to his hulking sister.

Once Biggie had finished her growth spurt, things settled down and mealtimes became more civilised.

The two birds grew rapidly as they approached fledging age. Ospreys normally fledge, as in make their first flight, at between 50 and 55 days old, with an average of 53 days. 

We thought that Biggie, given her epic stature, might be a bit delayed as it would take some serious wing power to get her airborne.

But she stuck to the Foulshaw chick tradition of keeping to the textbook average and, at 53 days old on 13 July, flew off to dad’s nearby perching tree and then, after a rest and probably a bit of bewilderment, made it back again to the nest in one piece.  

Tiny looked suitably unimpressed.

Blue 3N osprey at Foulshaw Moss nest spreads her wings - 2019
We thought that Biggie, given her epic stature, might be a bit delayed as it would take some serious wing power to get her airborne.
Alasdair McKee
Volunteer

Tiny took a more relaxed approach to this flying business, skipping the 53 day average to enjoy a couple more days of having the nest to himself. Then he took to the air with some style on 20 July.

His second day aloft saw him join an osprey flying circus with sis, mum and dad and a couple of passing intruders.

To see six of these magnificent birds in the air at once was a rare treat. 

Osprey Blue 2N prepares to fledge - 2019 Foulshaw Moss

Blue 2N aka 'Tiny' prepares to fledge from the nest

The ospreys will be at Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve until the beginning of September and now is a great time to see them soaring around.  

Pay us a visit and enjoy a first-rate feathered fly past.

ospreys on nest - family portrait 2019
To see six of these magnificent birds in the air at once was a rare treat.
Alasdair Mckee
Volunteer