The news that Lady laid three eggs in her nest at the Loch of the Lowes Reserve is a huge tonic for her fans and for the Scottish Wildlife Trust who all feared that illness would bring an end to this Iconic Osprey’s life.
Lady’s love affair with the Loch of the Lowes Reserve has seen her repeatedly summer at the Loch in the last twenty years and almost single handedly (shouldn’t that be winged?) help to re-establish the numbers of Ospreys in this country with almost 50 chicks hatched in her life time.
A Remarkable Old Lady
Lady’s egg laying is an incredible reflection of her endurance and maternal instinct, which has seen world wide recognition including a book of her life and struggles. On average Ospreys live for about eight years and have twenty eggs. Lady is twenty six years of age and has laid a staggering sixty two eggs, fledging forty eight of them to date.
2011, Her last Hurrah? Lets Hope Not
There was a great deal of world wide concern for Lady when she fell ill last year, her illness saw nearly a quarter of a million people world wide glued to her webcam willing her to get better which she did enough to attempt to migrate, however there was a general belief that she would perish during her flight to her winter nesting grounds in Gambia. Lady stunned staff at Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Loch of the Lowes Reserve when she arrived at her nest in April and proceeded to lay eggs on the 13th, 16th and 19th of April, with gestation around 38-40 days Lady and her long standing partner 7Y still have a mammoth task to guard the nest from predators, whilst keeping themselves fed and the eggs incubated. If all goes well then the first chick should be hatching around the week beginning 22nd May, which will see a boost to regions visitors.
In our interview with John Loader (RSPB Campaign’s Officer) last year he told us that “around 290,000 people visit (the RSPB’s) Osprey sites every year, bringing in £3.5m.” It stands to reason that Lady’s story will see more eco tourism this year as news breaks of her new and maybe last brood, due to her illness and age.
The Osprey in The UK
The Osprey is a medium-large fish eating bird of prey, with a world wide distribution. They were driven to extinction in the United Kingdom around 1916 although there are arguments that the bird survived in one or two isolated pockets. In the mid 1950’s Scandinavian Ospreys began to colonise around Loch Garten in the Cairngorms and there have been nesting pairs almost ever since (Scandinavians colonising? sounds like the Vikings again!!). There have been a number of initiatives to raise numbers, which have involved protecting nests, tagging birds and opening new reserves such as Loch of the Lowes which has seen Ospreys settle further south. Since then numbers have increased to around 148 pairs (Source RSPB) but the Osprey is still classified as being a rare breed and is endangered, despite Lady’s attempts to redress this! There is still much to be done to protect these magnificent creatures and the environments they need.
Bird Watching Equipment
If you do go to see Lady, 7Y and hopefully their chicks then you need to make sure that you are well prepared as the weather near to the Southern Cairngorms can be “changeable”. A good lightweight waterproof jacket such as the ever popular The North Face Sequence is an essential piece of kit. Waterproof trousers such as Berghaus’ Deluge with side vents and also a daypack to fit in your waterproofs, food and camera/binoculars are also good ideas. One item that shouldn’t be missed out on any trip to Scotland is insect repellent! For more information on suitable equipment why not check out our informative post on Bird Watching Kit
Seeing Lady and 7Y
The Loch of the Lowes Reserve is situated to the north of Perth with the Caingorms National Park a very short drive away for turning your bird watching into a short walking or camping break. The Reserve’s Visitors Centre is open 10am-5pm with the hides open 24/7.
If you cannot get to see Lady in person then make use of the excellent webcam and blog provided by the Scottish Wildlife Trust to keep up to date with her. The Scottish Wildlife Trust is a charity and relies upon the goodwill of it’s members and visitors. Their work ranges from protecting animals, including the Ospreys, to educating people through visitors centres and the re-creation of Scotland’s natural habitat. If you wish to join the trust/donate or get more information please click this link to their visit their site and find out more.