Tayside and Central Scotland

Loch of the Lowes osprey lives to see chicks fledge

Loch of the Lowes Osprey
Image caption The first chick left the nest on Sunday morning

An osprey thought to be just hours from death a few weeks ago has survived to see her chicks leave the nest.

The first fledging took to the skies at the Loch of the Lowes centre in Perthshire on Sunday morning, the Scottish Wildlife Trust said.

The second made its first flight at 1000 BST on Monday.

The chicks' mother, a 24-year-old osprey called Lady, suffered a bout of ill health in June. Experts feared the bird would die when she stopped eating.

But thousands of webcam viewers witnessed her sudden recovery days later.

Female ospreys live an average of eight years and produce about 20 chicks in that time.

But Lady - the oldest breeding osprey in the UK - has produced 56 eggs and has now seen 48 fledge.

'Emotional moment'

The bird has developed an international following through the webcam trained on the eyrie throughout the breeding season.

Wildlife centre manager Peter Ferns said: "We are overjoyed that our female breeding osprey has once again been successful in producing and raising chicks which have fledged the nest.

"This is the 20th consecutive year we have watched over this bird at Loch of the Lowes and it's certainly been one of the most dramatic."

Mr Ferns said it was an "emotional moment" for staff at the centre and webcam viewers when the chick fledged.

He said: "A few weeks ago we didn't think we would see this day after the female became so ill. Since her remarkable recovery, she has amazed us all again with her tenacity and dedication to her chicks."

The chicks will spend a few weeks building up their wing strength and practising fishing and feeding before leaving for the 3,000 mile migration to West Africa at the end of August.

They will spend the first three to five years of their life there before becoming sexually mature and returning to the UK to breed.

But experts are worried that Lady will be too weak to survive the migration this year.

Emma Rawling, the Scottish Wildlife Trust's Perthshire Ranger, said: "Given her recent illness, our female may be too weak to migrate and might therefore stay a few weeks later than usual, or possibly will not migrate at all."

She added: "The odds that she will return next spring are low, but we won't be giving up on her. She has surprised us once and just might be capable of doing it again."

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