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Last Updated: Friday, 30 March 2007, 08:24 GMT 09:24 UK
Rare bird of prey finds new mate
osprey (RSPB)
Ospreys are afforded the highest degree of legal protection
A new female osprey has arrived at a Scottish Wildlife Trust reserve in Perthshire to nest.

Rangers at the reserve at Loch of Lowes, near Dunkeld, said the new osprey had arrived with a returning male - a week earlier than last year.

Once settled, the new female will lay between one and four eggs during April.

It is thought the original 19-year-old female, who had been returning to the site since 1991, had reached the end of her natural lifespan.

Ranger Andrea Williams said: "The oldest known osprey female is 23 years old and ours was at least 19 so we did think last year could be the last we saw of her."

Surveillance operation

Speaking of the newly arrived ospreys, she added: "The pair has been soaring above the nest and joined forces to chase off a couple of buzzards.

"Obviously this new pairing is tinged with a bit of sadness as we can only assume that our old female is no longer around but hopefully the new relationship will be a fruitful one."

The trust has installed a webcam to help monitor the rare birds as part of a 24-hour surveillance operation - including all night infra-red pictures - which is manned by 70 volunteers and staff.

The new camera can also zoom in so clear, close pictures of the birds can be seen by visitors to the reserve or through the trust's website.

Ospreys are afforded the highest degree of legal protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

It is an offence to intentionally take, injure or kill an osprey or to take, damage or destroy its nest, eggs or young.

It is also an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb the birds close to their nest during the breeding season. Breaking the law can lead to fines up to 5,000 per offence and/or a prison sentence of up to six months.

Ospreys return to nest in Gwynedd
29 Mar 07 |  North West Wales
Love nests to attract rare birds
18 Mar 07 |  Cumbria

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