Thursday, March 25, 2010
The Grand Old Lady of the Loch
By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor
She's the Grand Old Lady of the Loch – a female osprey who has now returned for a record 20th consecutive year to her Scottish nesting site.
The bird has again completed the 3,000-mile migration from her wintering grounds in West Africa to her summer breeding territory at Loch of the Lowes in Perthshire, confounding wildlife experts in the process.
At the ripe old age of 25 years old, she has lived more than three times the average lifespan of an osprey. The fish hawks began breeding again in Scotland in the 1950s after being driven to near extinction.
The bird is thought to be the oldest breeding female of her kind ever recorded in the UK. Ospreys' lives are often cut short by one of the numerous hazards they face on their long migrations to and from West Africa. The total distance she has travelling during her yearly migrations could have taken her more than half way to the Moon.
"We are truly amazed at the tenacity and endurance of this particular female osprey," said Emma Rawling, Perthshire ranger of the Scottish Wildlife Trust. "Defying her age, she has made it back to us again, and from initial sightings she looks like she is in remarkably good condition. She is now waiting for her mate to arrive to begin her 20th breeding season."