When I arrived at Eleven Mile Canyon this morning I was glad to see three osprey in the nest and papa osprey not at his usual perch. That meant I was about to get a shot of him flying in with the morning catch 🙂 I looked around and didn’t see him in the air so I started climbing up to my own perch. Unfortunately that requires a couple of minutes with my back to the nest… I turned around just in time to spot one of the critters landing on a cliff nearby even though I hadn’t seen any shadows overhead indicating the arrival of the papa.
I whipped up my camera as quickly as I could and got a shot off just as the raptor was landing 🙂 Odd place for papa to land though, I thought… Closer inspection revealed that it was one of the youngsters! His first flight, about 20 yards from the nest over to the top of a cliff 🙂 He looked pretty proud of himself, doing some kind of little osprey dance where they kind of weave from side to side and bounce up and down… I’ll try to get some video footage of that now that I have a still of him in flight.
Eventually Papa did fly in and I was ready for him to land on the nest but he flew behind the trees and right on by the nest over to a tree near me on my side of the river. So I trained the camera back on the youngster hoping he would fly back to the nest. About a half hour later he started to stir, taking a couple of test flights just a couple of feet off the ground and then off he went, swooping past the nest and into the sky 🙂 That’s the moment in the above picture… he looks so determined! No more worries about him being stranded on the cliff as he proudly soared high in the clear blue Colorado sky, making several passes past the nest and into the trees to the south.
Lol… it appears his landing skills are still needing some work though, I could see that he wanted to land on a couple dead trees but he overshot the target and had to continue on :( Eventually he made it to another massive bare rock where he clumsily landed high on top of a cliff. He rested there a while before once again taking flight, swooping past the trees and soaring high in the bright Colorado blue sky. It seemed like pure joy after all these weeks of being nest bound, bouncing up and down and trying so hard to follow his powerful parents into the freedom of the sky :)
He found another landing spot on the very top of the cliffs, far above the roaring river below, dangerously close to territory claimed by the buzzards who were circling today as always. I wondered where papa was, having not seen him in quite some time. As I watched through my 400mm lens I spotted a bird in a tree right above junior. I focused in and it was the ever watchful father osprey, on a perch not 20 yards from the new aviator. I should have known, the osprey are always watching their young, never both out of sight of their offspring and I know these formidable predators will never allow them to be harmed. In the picture below you can see the young one on the rock and the father in the tree overhead.
Well anyway, what an honor it was to be there for the little osprey’s first flight, I’m still pinching myself. The younger raptor was also busy today, catching a little air himself, or herself, I don’t think you can tell male from female… unless of course you are an osprey! I imagine the sibling will be taking flight in the next few days too… perhaps I’ll be there when it happens!
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