A PERMANENT memorial may be erected to commemorate Britain’s oldest breeding osprey, feared dead after failing to return to her Perthshire nest for her 25th year.
“Lady”, Scotland’s most famous bird of prey, has failed to reappear at her nest at the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Loch of the Lowes reserve, near Dunkeld, Perthshire where she has spent the past 24 summers.
The bird, which fledged a record 50 young in her remarkable life, would now be 29 years old - about three times the average lifespan for her species.
Staff at the reserve had hoped she would return for a 25th successive year and perhaps attempt to breed once again.
But with the latest date she has ever returned from her annual migration from West Africa being April 7, Jonathan Pinnick, the reserve manager, said that “there will be discussions taking place” about a way to remember her.
He said: “I think it is too late to say now that she will turn up.
“All of the birds have been held up this season so there is a small chance that she could appear but she isn’t ringed or tagged.
“There is a theory that old birds reach an age where they can’t breed any more, and they sometimes stop part way during their migration.
“She might still be alive and she might turn up next year.”
Agreeing with this theory, Roy Dennis, an Osprey expert said there could be many reasons why the famous bird has failed to return to her nest and one of them could be that she is “simply sunning herself in Spain.”
However, staff at the reserve said regardless of the outcome of this season, or the next, “there is no doubt that this female has firmly cemented herself in Loch of the Lowes history, and the Scottish osprey conservation story.”
Mr Pinnick added that the reserve would like to do something to commemorate the historic bird, but what they will do is unknown as yet.
He said: “Lady’s life story has been so incredible, so doing something to commemorate her is something we would consider.
“She has raised 50 birds here and considering there is only about 250 pairs of breeding osprey’s in the UK, that’s quite a large contribution.
“She is a very significant bird.”
Meanwhile, another female seems to have settled nicely on the nest with Lady’s five year-old mate Laddie, and is expected to lay her first egg at the reserve within the next few days.
According to staff at the reserve, the new female has been extremely active and keeping all of her viewers entertained by flying, bathing and relaxing in her nest.
Mr Pinnick added that suggestions for a name for the new bird have “already been flying around” but Loch of Lowes will not be naming her themselves.
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