FOULSHAW Moss Nature Reserve is celebrating the arrival of three osprey chicks.

The rare birds have been coming to the peatbog, near Witherslack, since 2008 but this is their first successful breeding attempt.

Cumbria Wildlife Trust (CWT) believes the chicks hatched between June 4 and 6 – but it is only within the last week that they have been identifiable on the nest camera.

Visitors to the site, armed with binoculars and telescopes, can see the adults bringing back several fish a day to feed the young.

“We suspected something weeks ago because the behaviour of the birds changed,” said conservation manager David Harpley.

“Instead of the female sitting down all the time you get an increase in activity.

“The chicks are hard to see when they are very small and the mother keeps them covered up, but in the last few days we’ve been able to see for sure that there are three birds.

“They’re starting to get quite feathery and look like proper ospreys rather than balls of fluff – they have white feathers on their heads, little brown masks and speckly brown wings.”

The chicks will start trying to fly within the next few weeks and are expected to have left the site by early September.

They will then travel back to the west coast of Africa.

“It’s a leisurely migration – they fly from one wetland to another and don’t rush like swallows and swifts,” said Mr Harpley.

“But it is dangerous for them – my understanding is that they all travel independently.

“A lot of the youngsters don’t know where they are going and I believe a lot disappear in migration.”

The ospreys arrived in April and cameras have been relaying images to the CWT via mobile phones.

The images show that the male has a white ring on his right leg, indicating he was born at Bassenthwaite in 2008.

The female has a right blue leg ring and was born in Kielder Forest in 2010. Mr Harpley said the unsuccessful breeding last year was ‘probably down to youth and inexperience’ and he hopes that the hatching of chicks at Foulshaw Moss should now be an annual occurrence.