Highlands & Islands

Osprey chick at RSPB Scotland's Loch Garten reserve

Female adult EJ and chick and two eggs in nest Image copyright RSPB Scotland
Image caption The chick, with mouth open ready to receive a morsel of food, from EJ on Wednesday morning

A well-known osprey is raising the first chick of her latest clutch of eggs.

EJ, who is 20 years old this year, has been visiting Loch Garten for 15 years and has reared 25 chicks over that time with mate Odin and other males.

She has been seen on a webcam at the RSPB Scotland reserve near Grantown on Spey feeding fish to the chick.

Earlier on Wednesday, there were two eggs left in the nest, which was buried under snow last month, still to hatch.

The chick hatched on Tuesday evening.

RSPB staff and volunteers at Loch Garten dubbed the nest "the snow doughnut" after it was covered in thick snow during a cold spell in April.

Image copyright Julie Quirie/RSPB Scotland
Image caption The top of EJ's head poking up above the snow on her nest falling a heavy snowfall last month

EJ and her mate Odin are the most successful breeding pair at the Loch Garten site.

Over previous seasons, 17 of their chicks have fledged.

Ospreys migrate from west Africa to Scotland to breed and can be seen hunting for fish from rivers and lochs.

RSPB Loch Garten's Chris Tilbury said: "After the horrendous weather conditions at the end of April, plus EJ's ripe-old-age of 20, it's been a nerve-wracking wait to see if these eggs would hatch.

"Everyone's just delighted and there's a real buzz about the centre - we're all desperate to get a view of the chick and to see it being fed by EJ.

"We're hoping that the remaining two eggs will also hatch over the next couple of days."

Image copyright RSPB Scotland
Image caption EJ, Odin and chick at nest

The conservationist added: "The hatching of an osprey chick is always cause for celebration, but each year that EJ returns, our delight is mixed with a little apprehension.

"She's the most successful female osprey ever at this nest, but this is her 14th breeding season here and she's 20 this year, so her fertility may well be waning.

"But she's come up trumps yet again - this is her 26th chick to hatch at this nest and we have high hopes that by the end of the week she'll have chicks 27 and 28."

Image copyright RSPB Scotland
Image caption EJ and Odin and their three eggs in the nest on Tuesday afternoon

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