The fuzzy baby chicks are now gangly adolescents. They are almost the size of their parents, and the nest has become a bit snug for the family of four. Mama and Papa often retreat to a branch on the big ash tree by the river. There they can keep an eye on the nest, but also have a little space.
The chicks have voracious appetites, and, although their parents hope to encourage independence by not overfeeding, they also spend time fishing to feed the youngsters. The fish also provide the ospreys with water, which they've needed in these mercilessly hot, sunny days.
We've learned to recognize their different fishing styles. Papa ascends to great heights, then plummets like a bullet into the water, extending his great talons at the last moment. He snatches a fish and turns it so it's facing forward. He must know that that will work better aerodynamically. Papa then takes the hapless fish on several soaring, swooping passes over the nest before he lands. Mama flaps along the surface of the river, dips quickly and gracefully scoops up a fish. She returns to the nest with considerably less theatrics.
Flying is likely to come any day now. The chicks stand on the rim of the nest and flap and flap, sometimes getting a couple inches of air. Mama and Papa watch with approval.