Here at Loch of the Lowes we have been literally jumping for joy today with the wonderful news of the arrival of our first Osprey egg of the season on the nest.
We have to admit we were all beginning to wonder if our famous veteran female osprey “Lady” was ever going to lay- and if perhaps her great age meant that she wasn’t fertile. As the normal interval between first mating and egg laying for this bird is about 10days, the 19days this year had us all more than a little worried. We may never know if it has been lower fertility or a conscious decision to avoid bad weather that delayed this year’s first egg- but now it’s here we can all celebrate!
Not only is this a milestone for our female- her 65 egg in her breeding life- but it’s wonderful news for her worldwide admirers, and it is still an important small success for the species. We must never forget that ospreys were driven to extinction in the UK and have only made a comeback due to the determined efforts of conservation groups, volunteers and landowners- and a change of attitude by the pubic in the UK. Some people are surprised to hear that these birds are still rarer that Golden Eagles in the UK, with only approximately 240 breeding pairs, which means there is no room for complacency as this population could be vulnerable to persecution, disease etc.
I was reminded of this today when a concerned member of the public rang to seek help whilst witnessing a fish farm worker illegally shooting at ospreys – a wildlife crime we reported immediately to the police. This is a reminder of what hazards our ospreys still face, even in the UK.
Every egg and chick is another valuable contribution to the species continued recovery and will hopefully help ospreys spread further and re-colonise more of their historic range in the UK.
If this egg is successfully incubated (for 35-40days) it will be due to hatch around the 25th of May. Let’s hope this egg is joined by another one or two over the coming days- all fingers crossed.
When the egg was laid just after noon today, you could see the classic low lying and straining posture of our female, and soon after you could see her tuck her head down and roll the egg with her beak. Both she and the male have started curling their talons in to walk around the nest, which they only do in presence of eggs to protect them.
Full marks for the male osprey today who has taken to incubating straight away- in fact this evening he took more than half an hour to be persuaded by the female to ‘give ‘ the egg back to her to incubate!
After all today’s excitement, champagne and chocolate I can’t ask for a better way to end the day than watching our beloved bird contentedly incubating her egg on the nest.