Tyne & Wear

Three Northumberland osprey chicks take to the air

Three osprey chicks born to a nesting pair in Northumberland have taken to the air for the first time.

The birds were born to a pair which last year raised what was thought to be the first osprey family in the North East for at least 200 years.

The flight was monitored by rangers using CCTV cameras at the Kielder Forest nesting site.

The birds are expected to begin a 5,000 mile (8,000 km) migration to sub-Saharan Africa later this month.

They have been named Aqua, Splash and Spray.

'Crash course'

Martin Davison, Forestry Commission ornithologist, said: "The chicks need to put on extra body fat to tackle the long flight.

"Ospreys are expert hunters and will often hover over water to spot fish close to the surface.

"It is amazing how quickly young birds learn, but it is a matter of survival.

"The adult male will teach his offspring to fish and it really is a crash course.

"By the end of August they will start a hazardous migration to sub-Saharan Africa when they must fend for themselves or perish."

Ospreys were once found widely, but persecution resulted in the species becoming extinct in England as a breeding bird in 1840 and in Scotland in 1916. They recolonised naturally in Scotland in 1954.

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