Page last updated at 16:03 GMT, Monday, 13 July 2009 17:03 UK

Osprey chicks 'ready for flight'


Opreys which have hatched in Northumberland for the first time in 200 years, are about to leave, say experts

The first osprey chicks to be born in Northumberland for 200 years are about to leave their nest, experts say.

A Forestry Commission team have ringed the birds, which hatched in a remote area of Kielder Water and Forest Park last month.

In a delicate operation the three chicks were lowered to the ground in bags so the rings could be fitted.

Commission experts predict the six-week-old chicks will leave the nest before the end of the month.

Ecologist Tom Dearnley said: "You probably have to go back to the early 1700s for the last ospreys to be born in Northumberland.

"So to see three calmly sat on the grass without a care in the world was pretty mind-blowing.

"The ringing only took 20 minutes or so and the mother soon perched herself on a nearby branch when the chicks were put back on the nest.

"Their development has been rapid thanks to the exemplary care of the adult birds, who are almost certainly first time parents."

It has not been possible to sex the chicks, other than noting that all three were slightly different in size.

By ringing the birds it will be possible to keep tabs on their fortunes in future years.

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