The female osprey nesting at the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Loch of the Lowes Wildlife Reserve near Dunkeld has laid her third and likely final egg of the season.
Charlotte Fleming, Perthshire Ranger for the Scottish Wildlife Trust, said: “This is an important milestone in the osprey breeding season, but there is still a long way to go before we can relax.
“Our pair will need to sit tight and carefully incubate their clutch whatever the weather for at least 30 days, and protect their eggs against any predators that might dare to intrude, and just this morning our female had to see off a pair of crows that ventured too close to her nest.
“It’s possible for ospreys to lay four eggs, and the previous female at Loch of the Lowes did so on two occasions. We will be keeping a close eye on her behaviour over the next few days just in case she has another surprise for us, but all of our staff and volunteers are more than happy with a clutch of three eggs for now.”
The female osprey LF15 arrived back at the reserve on 18 March and was joined by her mate LM12 a week later on Good Friday, 25 March.
The pair’s first egg was laid on April 12, with the second coming on April 15. A webcam that allows people to watch the natural drama unfold has been viewed more than 250,000 times since the female arrived.
Ospreys typically lay between two and three eggs in a season, and eggs are incubated for an average of 37 days before they hatch.
Once extinct in the UK, there are now around 240 breeding pairs of ospreys thanks to the efforts of nature conservation charities including the Scottish Wildlife Trust, whose Osprey Protection Programme is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, Clara Govier, said: “It’s always exciting to follow the progress of Perthshire’s most watched ospreys. The pair are making great progress and we all have our fingers crossed that they will have another a successful season after hatching three healthy chicks in 2015.”