Grand old osprey: Lady returns to Loch of the Lowes nature reserve

The UK’s oldest known osprey returned to her nest at a Scottish wildlife reserve – only to end up in a mid-air showdown with a love rival.

The “veteran matriarch”, affectionately known as Lady and thought to be 28 years old, has nested at the Loch of the Lowes in Perthshire for a record-breaking 24 consecutive years.

Staff at the wildlife reserve identified her through her plumage and eye markings when she landed at 6.49am after completing her 3,000-mile migration from West Africa.

On arrival, the osprey who has also given birth to a record number of chicks, found her mate in a nest with a different female, but dive-bombed the rival out of sight.

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Emma Rawling, The Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Perthshire Ranger, said: “Lady is a veteran matriarch.

“We never take her return for granted because she is getting old and it’s a long journey from West Africa.

“And we were not even sure whether it was going to work out this year, because there was a rival female in the nest next door.

“But as soon Lady arrived, she dive-bombed and chased the rival away. She reclaimed her nest and her mate.

“She definitely put him in place. The female rival was chased off and has not been seen since. We don’t expect her to come back. Hopefully she will find somewhere else to nest.

“Lady has certainly wasted no time in mating. Courtship is definitely under way and they are looking very comfortable with each other.”

(© HEMEDIA / SWNS Group)
via STV via STV
At 28, Lady has outlived the average lifespan of a wild osprey three times over.The majestic species normally produce about 20 chicks in their lifetime, but Lady also broke records after she laid 68 eggs and reared 50 chicks.

The osprey couple have already began their courtship and Lady is expected to lay two to four eggs in early April which will hatch in about six weeks time.

Her every move is captured on a special webcam which is monitored round the clock by a dedicated team of staff and volunteers and followed by millions online

Emma said: “She has become an ambassador for ospreys. She is the oldest known osprey in the UK and is followed by people around the world.

“There were more than two million hits on our webcam last year, which gives you some idea of how popular she is.

“She’s a glamorous bird with an interesting personality and people feel connected with her story.

“She is a very old bird and for her to undertake another successful migration is testament to just how special she is, however, it does demonstrate the conservation success story of the species as a whole.

“To think that ospreys were extinct just over a century ago, really brings home how accomplished the concerted effort of conservation has been in that time.

“The questions now are whether she will breed, if any eggs will hatch and whether any chicks fledge.

“People should tune in to the Ospreycam and read the blog in order to keep up-to-date with all the news here at the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Loch of the Lowes Visitor Centre.”

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