Page last updated at 13:08 GMT, Wednesday, 8 April 2009 14:08 UK

Osprey lays record-breaking egg

Osprey with egg
A team of nearly 70 volunteers will watch the nest round the clock

Scotland's oldest known breeding osprey has laid a record-breaking 53rd egg.

The female at the Loch of the Lowes reserve in Perthshire produced her first egg of this year's breeding season at 1917 BST on Tuesday.

She has now laid considerably more eggs than the average osprey, which can only usually manage about 12 in a lifetime.

A team of nearly 70 volunteers will take it in turns to man a round-the-clock watch at the nest in Dunkeld to protect it from egg thieves.

'Unbelievable feat'

Claire Troup, Scottish Wildlife Trust's Perthshire ranger, said: "Fifty three eggs in one lifetime is an unbelievable feat for an osprey female, especially considering that the average lifespan of an osprey is eight-years-old and that females usually produce around 12 eggs in that time.

"We were delighted to welcome our female back to Lowes this year, as we had been worried she wouldn't make the arduous 3,000 mile journey from West Africa due to her advancing age.

"We also thought that the chances of her producing yet more eggs were slim as her age would have impacts on her fertility, but she has done it again despite the odds."

The team at the reserve expect the osprey to lay one or two more eggs over the next few days and they could have some osprey chicks in about six weeks time.

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