Highlands & Islands

First osprey chick at Loch Garten hatches into paternity storm

Image caption Ospreys nest each year at Loch Garten

Staff at an RSPB reserve have welcomed the hatching of the site's first osprey chick of the latest breeding season.

But they are not sure whether its father is a regular visitor called Odin, or another osprey seen with his mate EJ.

In 2007, another male called Henry kicked the eggs fathered by a rival from EJ's nest before his own clutch with the same female bird failed.

Loch Garten reserve manager Richard Thaxton said staff were on tenterhooks.

He said: "This is the first egg to hatch and yet its provenance is uncertain owing to EJ's dalliance with another male osprey before Odin's late arrival.

"We have been on tenterhooks to see what would happen. Is it his, who knows? Odin at least seems to think so."

Mr Thaxton added: "Throughout the 36 days of incubation the weather has been atrocious, but EJ has remained dutifully steadfast in the face of endless rain, sleet and snow, sitting tight through to hatching.

"All being well the remaining two eggs should hatch in the coming few days."

Five years ago, EJ incubated two separate clutches to rival males, but they all perished.

First, Henry kicked the eggs fathered by a rival from a nest before his own clutch failed.

It was thought that he accidentally trampled on one of his three offspring while trying to free himself from a piece of fishing line.

Days later the two remaining chicks also died.

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