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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 8 April, 2003, 13:09 GMT 14:09 UK
Osprey's flight of fancy
Osprey - generic picture
Home to her Scottish lovenest
One of Scotland's most famous birds has returned home to nest after a flight spanning 3,000 miles.

Olive the osprey flew from West Africa to reclaim her old home at Loch Garten, Strathspey, for the 10th consecutive year.

She has settled into her nest and hopes to find love with a new partner, according to experts.

Staff at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Scotland's (RSPB) Abernethy reserve were "thrilled" to see the famous visitor fly directly into the nest.

This was unusual behaviour, they said, because ospreys tend to circle a nest several times before landing.

She wasted no time in settling in
Richard Thaxton
RSPB Scotland

Ornithologists confirmed it was Olive after examining her markings.

Last week another young female looked set to settle in 12-year-old Olive's nest.

But the interloper thought it unwise to try to muscle in on Olive's home.

Richard Thaxton, RSPB Scotland's Loch Garten site manager, said Olive was proving territorial since her return.

She said: "She wasted no time in settling in and scratching around, clearly familiar and comfortable with the site.

'Good sign'

"Since her arrival she has been guarding her site but in the absence of a mate she has had to nip away now and again to catch her own fish."

Her long-term partner Ollie, who nested at Loch Garten for 12 consecutive years, failed to return last year.

Olive, who has reared 18 young, took a new partner but failed to breed for the first time in nine years.

Staff are waiting to see if last year's new mate will also return for a romantic reunion at the Loch Garten nest.

"We are thrilled to see Olive back again this year," Mr Thaxton said.

"She had a rough time last season when her partner of nine years failed to return.

"The fact that she has chosen this same site again is a good sign she is ready to start over with a new mate."

There are about 130 mating pairs of osprey in Scotland whose mating season lasts for about 10 weeks from late April.

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