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When I arrived at the viewing hide this morning with the early sun shining through the trees, the chick was on the nest and both adult white-tailed eagles were in the nest tree. The female Iona was sitting high up in the branches above the tree looking her usual majestic self, while the male Fingal was on his favourite branch behind and to the left of the nest. The chick, anxious for more food, leapt unsteadily across the nest and (for the first time I had seen) ventured out onto a branch, the same one that the male was sat on. Immediately the male left the branch and flew round onto the nest and then onto the branch protruding from the front of the nest.
Later, when I returned with the morning group of visitors, both adults had flown and the chick sat preening its feathers. After lunch (and the unexpected appearance of a large black bull along the forest track) and having collected the second group of visitors for the day the chick still remained in its lonely position on the nest. Suddenly, a short while later, the chick stretched it's wings, started flapping and whether by accident or design ended up sitting on the same branch that had been occupied by the male in the morning. After a few unsteady seconds it gained its balance and remained there for the rest of the afternoon.
Is this the first step to the initial flight? Will the chick be back on the nest in the morning? Watch this space to find out.