Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Practicing to Fly

It's been about twenty days since I last saw them. They should be huge by now!  Walking quickly from the San Andres Drive trail head at San Dieguito Lagoon, I walk towards the Del Mar Race Track to check on the Osprey nestlings.

As I near the Osprey's nest, I can see that an adult is on the post watching over the nest. My first shot at the nest site is of the mom Osprey.

A youngster is facing the wind practicing to fly. Testing his wings and building up confidence as well as flight muscles to make that first flight.

He flaps and flaps his wings. This will help build his flying muscles.

He keeps up the winger-cising (nest observation lingo for wing exercising) for several minutes.
A close-up of juvenile #-1 . He has that look of wanting to fly.
More flapping of his beautiful big wings.

Another close-up of Juvenile # 1. Notice the young Ospreys have orange eyes.

Feeling the wind beneath his wings.

More and more wing flapping and you can see him lean into the wind. It is not going to be too long before they fledge.

He looks up at mom. Probably wishing he could perch there. Usually if the nest was in a tree, they would have a chance to hop to a branch as they practice flapping their wings. However they are in a man-made platform on top of a telephone pole. The nearest place for them to fly will be another platform nest that is about 300 feet east of their nest. A four-lane busy street borders the north side of the nest and the San Dieguito River is to the south.

Looking at the water and all the seagulls flying nearby.
They inspire him to start another round of wing flapping exercises.

All the winger-cising by juvenile # 1 awakens one of his nest mates.

Juvenile #2 now wide awake decides to do some winger-cise too. He appears to be a few days younger than Juvenile #1. See the new flight feathers under his arms are just starting to unfurl.

He's working hard at flapping his wings. With a look of pure determination, he faces the wind and flaps flaps flaps his big wings.

Juvenile # 2 appears to tire more quickly as he stops to rest. Juvenile # 1 starts up again... flap flap flap go the beautiful big wings.

This may have inspired the second juvenile to exercise his wings again. He spreads and flaps but mostly just holds them up feeling the wind beneath his wings.

Beautiful wings.

Working his flying muscles.

Oh my goodness, juvenile # 1 is starting to regurgitate.

He is in the process of expelling a pellet.

A bird will regurgitate undigested parts of a prey to expel it from his stomach. It is called a pellet.

Pellets are formed six to ten hours after his meal in the bird's gizzard.

You can see that the youngster is exerting some energy to expel the pellet. If you are not aware of this, you may think the bird is choking or in some kind of distress. This is what they must do to get rid of undigested items in their gut. His nest mate almost looks like he is trying to comfort him with his wings surrounding his shoulder.

The pellet falls quickly as it is expelled from his throat. It falls between the branches of the nest as his nest mate looks curiously as it falls.
Quiet moments...
Ok, back to winger-cising!

Feeling better after expelling his pellet, juvenile # 1 rejoins the winger-cising class.
"We have to take turns so we don't bump wings"
" OK, my turn".  Feeling better, juvenile # 1 goes on winging for quite a while.

Looking at mom and wishing to be able to perch up there too. Soon juvenile # 1 turns away and lays down for a rest as juvenile # 2 is busy preening his new flight feathers.

Looks like all the activity has woken juvenile # 3!  It is great to see all three healthy youngsters thriving and doing so well at this nest.

Wow, look at the beautiful long wings on him!

A close-up of juvenile # 3.

Oh, this one really means business... he is letting the world know he wants to fly!

Yes, and lol... he is ready to snag a few fish with his excellent talons too!

Wow, he vigorously pumps his wings as he grabs the nest to keep him from launching.

He is now bouncing up and down. If he wasn't grabbing onto the floor of the nest with his talons, I believe he would be helicoptering above the nest.

On and on he flaps and pumps his wings. He lets go of one of his talons feeling his body lift slightly while keeping his balance.

Now he plays with his right talons... gripping and releasing, his body lifting slightly with every flap of his wing beat.
Showing a beautiful flight style. You can almost see him soaring above the clouds

I think he is also imagining he is in flight too. It won't be long before he feels the freedom of flight and he will be discovering his new world outside of the nest.

Close-up of juvenile # 3

The mom Osprey starts to chirp signaling the arrival of her mate with dinner for the youngsters.

Dad coming to the nest with prey.

Securing his prey as he gets ready to land. He has started to unhook his talons from the back of the fish gripping the fish mainly at the head.

Looks at the nest for the perfect landing area. He zeros in on the nest.

Looks like he has a huge Crappie!

Close-up of the fish.
Perfect control of wings and talon.

The Osprey's left talons are starting to unlock from the prey as he approaches the nest dangling the fish in front.

Pumps his powerful wings to get just the perfect speed and height for his landing.

The youngsters are excited and gather near the edge.

The male Osprey looks for the best spot to land. He floats in gently with incredible control of his wings as he maneuvers forward with excellence.

Watching the male Osprey fly onto the nest with prey never gets old. It is always an exciting event and will take your breath away!

See how he lifts the prey onto the nest with perfect clearance.

Ready to land, he unlocks his talons and frees his left leg for the landing. You can see the youngster watching his every move.
A last powerful pump of his wings to insure the fish lands on the nest.
All the youngsters rush around as he balances himself in place.

Mom glides down from her lookout post.
Mom is upset about something that is flying high above and starts to call out warnings. I scan the sky and spot a raptor flying high and fast.

It's a Peregrine Falcon and it decides to change direction and avoid the nest area. Soon the mom Osprey settles down and starts to chirp for dad to let her do the feeding but he wants to feed the kids today. He ignores the female's chirping and keeps feeding the kids.

Mom gives up demanding that dad leave and guards the nest while he feeds the kids.

The kids are being fed but I need to move to the other side of the nest to see.

Finally I get a shot of all three youngster in one frame. It was great to see all three so well cared for and in such good health. Hope to see them again soon when they fledge. Now it's time for me to head for home.

LOL, that little Anna's Hummingbird is still there at the side of the trail where I saw him last on my last visit to San Dieguito Lagoon. What a show off.
And all the Cliff Swallows appear to have settled down and are busy brooding in their nests. 

I have to say I have never seen so many rabbits on my walk before. It must be a good year for rabbits. But lots of rattle snakes too. A warning to everyone, be very careful... snakes are also abundant this year!
Have a wonderful week everyone!