From Wildlife Extra:
Ospreys arrive back in the UK – Early
At least three ospreys have arrived back from Africa
23 March 2009. The first ospreys of 2009 have arrived in the UK, with two males at Rutland water and 1 female at Loch of the Lowes in Scotland. The first two were both sighted on Friday 20th March, with a second bird seen at Rutland Water on Sunday 22nd.
2 male ospreys have so far been seen, both of whom were present all last summer. They have arrived back a few days earlier than usual, probably due to the warm weather of the last week. However they will be in for a shock with the cold weather now returning from the north and east.
More about Rutland Water here.
Loch of the Lowes – 18th year
Perthshire’s original female osprey has returned to her summer home at Loch of the Lowes Wildlife Reserve for the 18th consecutive year, according to the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT).
Spotted landing on the eyrie at 6.05 pm on Friday 20 March, the arrival of the female osprey signals the beginning of the breeding process for one of Scotland’s most magnificent bird species. Nature enthusiasts can now visit Loch of the Lowes or watch the webcam to watch the osprey mate and hopefully raise young chicks.
3000 mile migration
Claire Troup, SWT Perthshire Ranger, explained: “We are thrilled our female osprey has returned again this year. Despite her age, she has managed to make a 3,000 mile migration from West Africa to her breeding ground at Loch of the Lowes. She is now waiting for her mate – a male osprey identified with a green leg ring – who usually arrives within a week of the female. The resident male will then chase any interloper away and initiate the breeding process.
44 eggs hatched to date
“After mating, we would expect the female to lay between two to four eggs in early April, and six weeks later the eggs should hatch. Using a high definition camera which can be viewed live from our visitor centre or online, we will be watching eagerly to see if our female can hatch any chicks again this year. 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.”
Once the first egg is laid, SWT staff, helped by nearly 70 volunteers, will take it in turns to man the round-the-clock watch to safeguard the osprey and their eggs. Once a common sight in Britain, the osprey was all but extinct by 1916 due to persecution. Conservation efforts continue to re-establish the species as part of Scotland’s rich wildlife.
Peter Ferns, SWT Visitor Centre Manager, said: “Over 20,000 visitors come to Loch of the Lowes each year to enjoy watching the osprey, and our high definition nest camera makes viewing the action a far more exciting and intimate experience. You can see stunning views of the nest and close up pictures of the bird and her chicks.
200 pairs in Scotland
“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 24hr osprey watch to protect our birds from thieves who steal unhatched eggs for private collections.
Ospreys are just one of many wildlife attractions at Loch of the Lowes Wildlife Reserve. Red squirrels and pine martens are regularly seen along with woodland birds of all types and sizes.
SWT’s Loch of the Lowes Visitor Centre is open all year, offering visitors the chance to observe wildlife in its natural setting while ensuring minimum disturbance to the animals. More about how to visit Loch of the Lowes here.