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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 May 2007, 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
Staff sorrow as osprey chick dies
Osprey with egg
A webcam has been recording the progress of the chicks
One of the first osprey chicks of the season has died eight days after hatching at a Perthshire reserve.

Its death was watched on CCTV by "devastated" conservation staff at Loch of the Lowes in Dunkeld.

The chick was one of three to be hatched at the reserve last week. The eggs had been laid on Easter Monday.

Staff, who had been taking part in a 24-hour protection programme called Osprey Watch, said the chick died in the nest at 0500 BST on Thursday.

The youngest and smallest of the three chicks "seemed to fade away" as volunteers manning the programme watched events live on CCTV.

Nature can be cruel and it is always going to be a case of survival of the fittest
Peter Ferns
Visitor centre manager

Peter Ferns, visitor centre manager at Loch of the Lowes, said the death was a blow to osprey conservation.

"It is difficult not to form some emotional attachment at some level to these chicks," he said.

"But at the end of the day, nature can be cruel and it is always going to be a case of survival of the fittest.

"In a highly competitive nest, the chicks fight for attention and food from their parents and it is often the largest and loudest that receive the lion's share.

Strong chicks

"The size and development of this chick was always going to make things difficult but not impossible."

Mr Ferns added that the surviving chicks seemed to be strong and active and staff had no concerns about them at present.

"We're just hoping that the weather improves as this must have been a contributing factor to the demise of the younger chick," he said.

Since 1969 when the first pair returned to Loch of the Lowes, the reserve has successfully helped to raise 66 chicks on the site, with 48 produced by the current female.

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