Osprey mother braves winter '˜snow doughnut' to protect eggs

An osprey is braving wintry conditions to incubate her three eggs while sitting in a 'snow doughnut'.

CCTV of an osprey braving wintry conditions to incubate her three eggs while sitting in a "snow doughnut" in the Highlands. Picture: RSPB Scotland/PA Wire

Female EJ, who turns 20 this year, and male partner Odin returned to the RSPB Scotland Loch Garten site last month for their ninth season together.

EJ continues to sit on the nest at the loch in the Highlands despite being almost buried in snow.

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RSPB staff said the snow acts as an insulator and that she and the eggs should be fine so long as the cold weather does not continue.

An osprey braving wintry conditions. Picture: RSPB Scotland/PA Wire

Julie Quirie, retail manager at the Loch Garten Osprey Centre shop, said: “I’ve worked at the centre for 10 years and I just can’t remember the snow ever being so bad.

“Poor old EJ does look pretty miserable in her snow doughnut, as we like to call it, but this is her 15th season here at Loch Garten and she’s well used to the worst of Scottish spring weather.

“And it’s really not as bad as it seems - snow is a good insulator, so as long as this snow snap doesn’t persist, EJ and her eggs should be fine. It still looks really uncomfortable to us though.

“It just shows how ospreys are well adapted to their environment - they’re able to cope with soaring temperatures in West Africa when they’re on migration as well as the vagaries of the Scottish Highlands in spring and summer.

An osprey braving wintry conditions. Picture: RSPB Scotland/PA Wire

“All being well, EJ and Odin should be proud parents by the middle of May, when hopefully the skies will be blue and the temperature rising.”

EJ and Odin are Loch Garten’s most successful osprey pair, with a tally of 17 chicks fledged from the nest.

The female returned on March 23 and Odin arrived just over a week later on March 31.

The RSPB expects around 30,000 people to come and see the ospreys and other wildlife from the centre this season.

Loch Garten has been home to breeding ospreys since the 1950s and was where the birds first returned after becoming extinct as a breeding species in the early 20th century, RSPB Scotland said.

Ospreys migrate from Africa, arriving in the UK in late March and April and leaving again in August and September.