While our resident female has been occupying her nest for the past 4 days, many of you may be wondering when last year’s male, 7Y might be expected. The answer to this is that we just don’t know. It is usual for the male osprey to return later than the female. Last year, 7Y returned 12 days after our female, and in 2009 there was a 9 day wait. At 11 years of age, 7Y is himself beyond the average 8 years life expectancy of an osprey, although this figure may be slightly skewed due to the 70% mortality rate in the first year, so while it is not unusual for an osprey to live to 11 years of age, our resident female has certainly bucked the trend at an estimated 26 years.
As 7Y has was not tagged for satellite tracking as a chick, we won’t know what his fate has been during the winter in West Africa, where ospreys do not enjoy the protection of the conservation status they possess here in the UK. Our hope is that if 7Y fails to return, our resident female will welcome another mate. The question on everybody’s lips then, is whether Lady is still fertile at an estimated 26 years of age. We simply won’t know the answer to this and will have to wait with suspense to find out if she will manage to successfully raise her 50th chick this year.
A question that was received from one of our followers on the blog via firstname.lastname@example.org related to the identification process we went through to ensure that the osprey on the nest at Loch of the Lowes is in fact our resident female returned for the 21st time. The characteristic we use to identify ‘Lady’ is a unique defect on her iris. On close examination there can be seen a distinct ‘lightning bolt’ mark in the yellow iris. This marking is unique to our resident female; however other factors involving general behaviour and other markings on the wings gave us an indication that it was in fact our resident female back for her 21st breeding season, but this was not confirmed until we had a clear image on the iris of her right eye.
There seems to be no end to the curiosity over ‘Lady’. A constant stream of media interest continues here at Loch of the Lowes, along with the publication of the book by Helen Armitage, Lady of the Loch; The Incredible Story of Britain’s Oldest Osprey, along with (much to our surprise) William Hill bets on the number of eggs laid and possible dates of hatching. All of this interest raises the profile of ospreys as a protected species and creates awareness and education among the public, hopefully leading to consideration and understanding.
Events from the nest today:
Our resident female has been sitting on the nest this morning. At 12.10pm from out in the Crannog Hide, another osprey could be seen approaching the nest. At this instant, our female took off to defend her nest and the other osprey left the area. During this time, our female did not make any alarm calls and upon returning to the nest appeared alert. The other osprey left the area after the incident and did not enter the scope of the camera meaning we were unable to see whether it had been ringed.
At 3.10pm there was a sighting of another osprey. Our female again left the nest to defend her territory, returning a few moments later.
Despite her age, our female is displaying an ability to defend her nest effectively.
Other wildlife at Loch of the Lowes:
At the feeders today, there have been sightings of great spotted woodpeckers, chaffinches, greenfinches, siskins, coal tits, blue tits and great tits.
Also there was a visit from a red squirrel, but without a view of the mammary glands, we cannot confirm whether it was the female that was viewed yesterday.
Out on the Loch, there could be heard the familiar call of oystercatchers from the other side of the loch. There have been sightings of 4 great crested grebes. Hopefully, we will have some successful breeding pairs this year.