Page last updated at 07:48 GMT, Tuesday, 28 July 2009 08:48 UK

Osprey chicks make first flights

Kielder osprey nest
The ospreys have nested on an artificial platform

The first ospreys to hatch in Northumberland for more than 200 years have taken to the skies.

The chicks, which are being watched closely by Forestry Commission rangers near Kielder Water, all fledged over the past week.

Volunteers said one took off early last week, probably aided by gusty winds, followed on Saturday by its siblings.

They will now have to learn to hunt for themselves before heading to Africa in time for winter.

Forestry Commission ornithologist Martin Davison said: "The chicks are now on a steep learning curve.

"For the first couple of days after fledging, young birds often look pretty bewildered, perching themselves on a branch trying to make sense of the big wide world.

Once common

"Mum and dad will continue to bring them fish, but within the next couple of weeks they've got to learn to hunt for themselves.

"There are no hard and fast rules, but by the end of August I'd expect to see the adults set course for sub-Saharan Africa to spend the winter, followed soon after by their offspring."

Earlier this month, the three chicks were ringed to allow them to be identified in future.

Accounts from the 18th Century refer to "fish-eating hawks" in Northumberland, but there have been no recorded osprey nests in the county until now.

The birds, once common in Britain, were hunted to extinction in England and Scotland.

Some re-colonised Scotland in the 1950s, and they have recently returned to the Lake District and and Rutland Water in the East Midlands.

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