'Oldest' breeding osprey lays 62nd egg at Loch of the Lowes
An osprey which is thought to be the UK's oldest breeding female has laid her 62nd egg at a Perthshire reserve.
The bird, known as Lady, returned in March to the Loch of the Lowes reserve near Dunkeld, where she has nested for 22 consecutive years.
On average, ospreys live for between 10 and 15 years in the wild.
The egg was spotted on Saturday evening by Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) staff and volunteers monitoring the webcam trained on the nest.
It follows last week's "puzzling" behaviour by the bird, who showed all the tell-tale signs of egg laying before completely changing her behaviour.
Officials at the Scottish Wildlife Trust, who manage the reserve, said Lady could have laid a "phantom egg", or the egg could have been damaged or destroyed.
If the egg which is now being incubated hatches, a chick can be expected in the next five or six weeks.
Scottish Wildlife Trust ranger Emma Rawling said: "After a mystery on the nest last week I'm so relieved that we can confirm there definitely is an egg in the nest now.
"Our 24 hour nest protection now becomes even more important - we will be monitoring the nest for as long as the ospreys are here and we hope we'll see young hatch in a few weeks' time."
Ms Rawling said Lady kept "surprising" experts at the SWT.
"She still seems committed to breeding, even at her advanced age. I'm sure that her fans watching on the webcam across the world will be keeping their fingers crossed that these eggs hatch very soon," the ranger added.Failed to hatch
In 2010, experts feared Lady would die after she fell ill and stopped eating.
However, thousands of people watching via webcam witnessed the osprey's sudden recovery days later.
Lady returned to her nest the following year, but her eggs failed to hatch. At this point Ms Rawling said staff at the SWT "feared that might have been the last we would see of this bird".
But Lady returned to the Loch of the Lowes again this year after completing the 3,000-mile migration from West Africa.
Female ospreys normally produce about 20 chicks in a lifetime. Lady has produced 61 eggs and has now seen 48 fledge.