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Last Updated: Friday, 7 May, 2004, 17:08 GMT 18:08 UK
Delight as Osprey lays rare eggs
Henry and White EJ at their Loch Garten nest
A nesting osprey who had to fight for her life against an intruding bird has defied all odds by laying three eggs.

It was thought the stressful attacks at Loch Garten in Strathspey, Scotland's oldest osprey nesting site, meant it would have lain empty for another year.

But its current resident, White EJ, startled RSPB staff by laying a full clutch of eggs.

The nest, at the Abernethy Forest Reserve, had been without a successful breeding pair for two years.

A fortnight ago, birdwatchers watched in disbelief as White - so-called from her leg ID ring - removed a broken egg from the nest following weeks of ferocious fighting with another female osprey.

The three eggs, plus the broken one, could mean that the nest's resident laid four eggs this season - a very rare phenomenon, said RSPB staff.

It is a huge relief and we are all very thrilled
Richard Thanxton
RSPB Scotland

RSPB Scotland's Loch Garten site manager Richard Thaxton said an osprey had laid a clutch of four eggs only a handful of times in the last 50 years.

He said: "It is almost unheard of. So to see there are still three eggs in the nest, in spite of all the suffering White EJ has been through, is a huge relief and we are all very thrilled.

"People come from around the world to see these birds and this year has been one of the most turbulent, and anxious, yet now rewarding."

Another possibility to explain the fourth egg was that it could have been laid by the intruding osprey.

'A miracle'

"The attacking female may have been desperately seeking a nest of her own, knowing she was about to lay eggs herself," Mr Thaxton added.

"Although there can be no doubt about the rightful owner of this particular nest now.

"It's incredibly lucky how things worked out."

He said: "The fighting of last month could have stressed both birds to such an extent that neither would lay eggs, or it may have ended in death for one of them.

"To find there are now three healthy eggs still in the nest is nothing short of a miracle and is fantastic news indeed."

Hatching is expected to take place towards the end of the month, if all goes well.

The exploits of White EJ and her partner, Henry, have been followed by birdwatchers around the world.

RSPB staff even learned of a fan club devoted to the pair in St Kitts, in the eastern Caribbean.

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19 Apr 04  |  Cumbria
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11 Apr 04  |  Cumbria
Osprey couple finally settle down
31 Mar 04  |  Scotland

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