Osprey Sets UK Record
12 Jul 2010
A 24-year-old osprey, dubbed nature’s supermum, is famed as the oldest breeding bird of its kind ever to be recorded in the UK and has now seen her chicks take off.
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Nature’s answer to Supermum’, a 24-year-old osprey famed as the oldest breeding bird of its kind ever to be recorded in the UK, has exceeded the expectations of experts by surviving this year’s breeding season to see that her latest chicks successfully take their first flight from the nest.
Taking to the skies on 11th July at 9:09am, the most recent chick to fledge from the osprey nest at the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Loch of the Lowes Wildlife Reserve and Visitor Centre is the 47th chick of the famed female bird. With ospreys living an average of eight years and producing 20 chicks during that time, experts are calling the Loch of the Lowe’s osprey ‘a real record-breaker.’
Following a bout of ill-health last month when thousands of wildlife enthusiasts from across the globe watched via web cam as the bird, known affectionately as the Lady of the Loch, became unable to open its eyes, stand over its chicks, and stopped eating. It was feared that the animal only had days to live and that her death would threaten the survival of the chicks, but onlookers watched in disbelief as the hardy bird made an unexpected recovery.
Now, experts are worried that the bird’s imminent departure to migrate to West Africa will be the last the UK sees this famous osprey.
Peter Ferns, the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Loch of the Lowes Visitor Centre Manager, said: ‘We are overjoyed that our female breeding osprey has once again been successful in producing and raising chicks which have fledged the nest. This is the 20th consecutive year we have watched over this bird at Loch of the Lowes and it’s certainly been one of the most dramatic.
‘We watched with absolute delight as the eldest chick soared for the first time. It was an emotional moment for all the staff and our dedicated bloggers who watch with us online. A few weeks ago we didn’t think we would see this day after the female became so ill. Since her remarkable recovery, she has amazed us all again with her tenacity and dedication to her chicks. We hope the younger chick will follow its elder sibling’s lead and take to the skies in the next few days.’
The chicks will now spend the next few weeks building up their wing strength and practising their fishing and feeding skills before leaving for the 3000 mile migration to West Africa towards the end of August. They will spend the first three to five years of their life there before becoming sexually mature and returning to the UK to breed.
The adult female is usually the first to leave the nest at the beginning of August, while the male stays on longer to continue to bring fish to the nest for the newly-fledged chicks. But this year staff of the Scottish Wildlife Trust are unsure about what will happen next.
Emma Rawling, the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Perthshire Ranger, said: ‘Given her recent illness, our female may be too weak to migrate and might therefore stay a few weeks later than usual, or possibly will not migrate at all. Our hope is that she is strong enough and will start her migration sometime in August. We’ll be especially sad to see her go as the odds that she will return next spring are low, but we won’t be giving up on her. She has surprised us once and just might be capable of doing it again.’
The eldest chick’s first take-off and landing were caught live on the Loch of the Lowes Visitor Centre’s high definition cameras and was witnessed by visitors to the centre on the large HD screen as well as the thousands of watchers on the webcam broadcast live to a global audience at www.swt.org.uk.
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