Tayside and Central Scotland

Loch of the Lowes osprey's mate raises chick hopes

Image caption The arrival of the male has raised hopes of more chicks for the pair

The male mate of the osprey thought to be the oldest breeding female in the UK has returned to nest at a Perthshire wildlife reserve.

Staff at the Loch of the Lowes reserve near Dunkeld said mating had begun between the male and the 26-year-old female, named Lady by staff.

There had been fears that Lady would not survive migration to Africa last year after becoming ill.

However, she returned to Dunkeld last week, her 21st year at the sanctuary.

Anna Cheshier, the Scottish Wildlife Trust's Perthshire ranger, said: "Not long after the male osprey arrived on the nest, mating began and continued to take place for most of yesterday morning."

'New father'

She added: "Arriving five days later than our female, we are absolutely thrilled to see a mate on the nest.

"Last year, this bird's behaviour indicated that he was a fairly new father but he really proved himself last season, following his paternal instincts to fish and provide for his chicks, particularly when our resident female suffered a bout of illness.

"His return and the pair's subsequent mating early into the season certainly increases the chances of chicks on the nest at Loch of the Lowes again this year."

Ms Cheshier said that the female osprey's unusually advanced age meant there were concerns over her fertility.

She added: "Only time will tell if she will go on to lay eggs and produce chicks. If she does manage to do so, she will be adding to her already impressive record of laying 58 eggs and producing 48 chicks so far in her lifetime."

Female ospreys generally lay two to four eggs in early April. They then hatch about six weeks later.

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