Streak and his sibling sister Sky peered out over the Cairngorms mountain range that was situated in the remote area of the rugged Scottish Highlands.
They were young golden eaglets.
Their piercing dark eyes and keen eyesight easily spotted the adult female Swiftdown who had successfully reared them. She was soaring, diving and somersaulting, and revelling in a breathtaking display of aerial acrobatics, some two miles away.
The two siblings looked like a ship’s captain and mate as they stood there on the edge of the eyrie on Ben MacDui. Certainly the range of their sight was equally as good as any telescopic enhanced vision of a seaman.
Streak was fortunate to be still around; normally his elder sibling (which Sky was by almost a week) would have killed him before he reached fledgling stage. This year the adult male Flashbolt had an abundance of mountain hare and ptarmigan to exercise his keenly tuned hunting skills on. Sky was always too full of stomach to even think about a kill.
Streak had loved the warm soft feathers of his mother’s breast as he was brooded under her wing. In those early days Flashbolt had undertaken responsibility for all the hunting and could easily supply enough prey to feed the three back at the eyrie.
When Swiftdown began to leave the nest for longer periods Streak had used his sibling sister for brooding him and had nestled himself forcefully under her wings. This had brought them to a mutual acceptance of each other.
Their sharp ears picked up their mother’s cry, “Kip……kip……kip.”
Was she calling them?
They spread their wings and vigorously simulated flying by flapping their wings and jumping up and down on the cliff ledge as if on a trampoline. These were natural wing strengthening exercises. It was nearly time for them to fly the nest – certainly Sky, now nearly ten weeks old, should be getting ready to leave.
Flashbolt arrived on one of his rarer visits now – nature’s way to get the eaglets’ hunger to force them to leave the nest. He stood on the edge of the eyrie, a shiny golden specimen of an eagle, and dropped a young partridge as their fare. He was a bird of great size and power and yet showed wonderful grace and poise in the air. Flashbolt was certainly a regal eagle - the ‘Monarch of the Ben’.
The evening brought a most glorious sunset painted across the mountain range of the Cairngorms by the Great Artist. The sky had a bright red wash from top to bottom over the whole firmament canvas. Greens, blues and yellows had been dropped in and merged from colour to hue like a skilled artist uses wet on wet. It was stunningly beautiful.
The whole mountain range and its valleys went to sleep, but for the call of the curlew coming from the distant quag marsh.
Dawn broke and was heralded in by the bellowing of a mature twelve pointer red stag. His snorting call echoed across the valley as if bouncing from mountain to mountain.
Streak and Sky awoke feeling the chill of the morning breeze. Their parents had not returned that night to roost at the eyrie. The eaglets heard, “Kip……kip,” yet the parent birds were not in sight.
Streak panicked. He was hungry and felt he had been deserted. He spread his wings and attempted a premature flight.
He glided a little from the mountain side then began to wobble and loose control and suddenly went into free fall, spiralling down to earth like and out of control helicopter. He was terror stricken.
He thudded against something firm but soft – he was being borne up on the wings of Flashbolt. Back safely on the nest ledge he trembled with fear.
Five days later he was still fearsome about making another attempt at flight. Sky had made her maiden flight a few days ago with little help from her parents. The three were now soaring on the thermals and enjoying the down and up drafts that made their flight so varied and majestic.
Flashbolt suddenly made as if he was going to furiously attack Streak. He violently started to stir up the nest and purposely knocked the eaglet off the ledge.
Streak spread his wings and held firm. Gliding and then winging his way across the mountain range he praised from his eagle heart the Maker who had given him flight.
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