Osprey chick hatches in front of live online audience

LADY, the oldest breeding female osprey in the UK, has made history yet again by successfully hatching her 49th chick at the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Loch of the Lowes reserve near Dunkeld.

Rangers at the reserve had feared the ancient osprey’s breeding days were over last year after all three eggs she had laid failed to hatch.

But they were left stunned and delighted after the nest webcam, watched by thousands of bird lovers across the globe, recorded the first of this season’s chicks slowly emerging on Monday night from one of three eggs laid by the 26 year-old bird of prey.

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A spokesman for the trust said that almost 20,000 people had watched the egg being hatched on the nest webcam - the first egg to be successfully hatched for two years and the 62nd egg to hatch in her lifetime.

Emma Rawling, the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Perthshire Ranger, said: “The chick started breaking through the egg at 7 in the morning and was finished by soon after 7 at night. This is perfectly normal - eggs can take up to 24 hours to hatch.

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“We know the female is used to being a parent but we didn’t know what to expect from her new partner. Fortunately, he seems to be acting responsibly. He has been to catch fish and the chick has been fed this morning. It is eating happily and looking strong.”

She added: “Provided that at least one of the other eggs hatches, she could reach the milestone of having successfully fledged 50 chicks in July, which would be a quite unbelievable achievement. We’ve had interest from all over the world and people visiting in their droves since the eggs were laid.

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“We expect many more as the other eggs hatch and the chicks fledge. We are going to satellite tag these osprey chicks to monitor exact routes, timings and behaviours of these fascinating migrating birds.”

Lady has been nesting at the Perthshire reserve for 22 years in succession and has already done more than any other bird to boost Scotland’s once fragile osprey population during her lifetime.