Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Sunday, 30 March 2008 16:58 UK

Elderly osprey set for 50th egg

The osprey (picture Kevin Hacker)
The osprey has been nesting at the reserve since 1991

An elderly osprey could be about to lay her 50th egg at a Perthshire wildlife reserve, experts hope.

The female bird has been nesting at the Loch of the Lowes reserve near Dunkeld since 1991.

She laid three eggs last year, bringing the total number of chicks she has produced at the site to 47.

The osprey returned to the reserve on Sunday and has already been joined by and mated with a male. It is hoped she will produced a clutch of eggs soon.

Once the first egg is laid, staff and nearly 70 volunteers will take it in turns on a round-the-clock watch to safeguard the nest.

Once settled, the female osprey is likely to lay between two and four eggs in early April, with the chicks hatching six weeks later.

It is amazing that just one pair of birds can play such a significant role in the survival of their species
Peter Fearns
Centre manager

Centre manager Peter Ferns said the male osprey was not the reserve's resident male, who has not yet been seen but could still arrive some time after his partner.

If the resident male does arrive, he will attempt to chase any interloper away and take over the breeding process.

Mr Ferns added: "If the female lays yet another clutch of eggs this year we could be celebrating a 50th egg here at the reserve.

"It is amazing that just one pair of birds can play such a significant role in the survival of their species.

"She is now getting on in years, so whether sadly this may be her last contribution to Scotland's osprey population before a younger female takes her place we will just have to wait and see."

Visitors to the centre can watch close-up video images of the birds and their nest on a big screen. It can also be viewed on the Scottish Wildlife Trust website.

Once a common species in Britain, ospreys were all but extinct by 1916, but their numbers have since increased thanks to conservation efforts.

The first pair of ospreys arrived at Loch of the Lowes in 1969, when they were only the fifth known pair in Scotland.

Staff sorrow as osprey chick dies
31 May 07 |  Tayside and Central
Egg number 47 for elderly osprey
17 Apr 07 |  Tayside and Central
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16 Apr 07 |  Tayside and Central

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