Page last updated at 15:07 GMT, Monday, 23 March 2009

Osprey returns to nesting place

The osprey
The osprey has laid more than 50 eggs at Loch of the Lowes

A female osprey which has been nesting at the Loch of the Lowes reserve in Perthshire for almost 20 years has delighted staff by returning.

The bird arrived at about 1805 GMT on Friday and was spotted on the webcam which is focused on the site.

The osprey has been visiting the Loch of the Lowes since 1991 and since then has laid more than 50 eggs.

Staff at the site hope her partner will arrive soon to mate and she will produce even more chicks.

'Aging bird'

Claire Troup, a Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) ranger, said: "We were a bit unsure of whether she would actually return this year, we were hoping she would return but she is getting on a bit.

"We're hoping the male will be arriving soon, last time he was only a day behind and then a couple of years before he was about a week behind.

"So hopefully he'll be arriving soon and then the male will be flying across her, doing his mating display and then he should be breeding with the female and then hopefully we'll have some eggs."

After mating, the team expect the female to lay between two to four eggs in early April, and then six weeks later they should hatch.

Ms Troup added: "To date, she has laid 52 eggs and 44 of those have successfully hatched, but sadly she is an aging bird and her fertility could be dwindling. This makes it another exciting breeding season."

Peter Ferns, SWT visitor centre manager, added: "Once on the brink of extinction, today 200 pairs of osprey now breed in Scotland during the summer months.

"Every year, for the last 40 years, we do everything we can at Loch of the Lowes to ensure that our osprey's breeding season is successful.

"This includes manning a 24 hour osprey watch to protect our birds from thieves who steal unhatched eggs for private collections."



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