The male osprey, officially named LM12, but popularly known as Laddie, landed at the Loch of the Lowes wildlife reserve, near Dunkeld, around lunchtime on Sunday.
The occasion was recorded on a webcam hidden at the nest.
Laddie’s appearance this year is two days prior to his previous earliest arrival date, which was set in 2019 when he returned on March 15.
Last year he turned up on March 21.
Staff and volunteers at the reserve, run by the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT), as well as a global audience of webcam-watchers, are now eagerly awaiting the return of LM12’s mate – the female osprey NC0, who goes by the nickname Lassie.
The pair first got together in 2020 and have successfully raised three chicks over the past two seasons.
Sara Rasmussen, SWT’s Perthshire ranger, said: “LM12’s arrival back in Perthshire has kick-started the season at Loch of the Lowes.
“We’re very hopeful of seeing his mate NC0 return by the end of the month.
“It’s an exciting time for everyone here, following weeks of preparation to ensure that the nest is ready for the birds’ return and that our live webcam is ready to share another exciting season with the world.”
Ospreys were extinct in the UK for much of the 20th century, but began to recover in the 1960s.
Now an estimated 300 pairs breed here each summer, mostly in Scotland.
Most of these birds migrate to West Africa in winter, but some spend the season in Spain and Portugal.
SWT’s Osprey Protection Programme at Loch of the Lowes wildlife reserve is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
Laura Chow, head of charities at People's Postcode Lottery, said: “It's always exciting to hear that the osprey season has started at Loch of the Lowes.
“The Scottish Wildlife Trust's work on the Osprey Protection Programme, which safeguards ospreys at the reserve, is so valuable.
“Watching through the webcam gives people all around the world the chance to learn more about these incredible birds.”