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Osprey queen of RSPB Loch Garten makes welcome return

EJ, world-famous osprey, has returned to her Loch Garten nest for a fifteenth breeding season.

RSPB staff and followers of the world-famous Loch Garten ospreys are said to be “wild with delight” at the return of the female breeding osprey, EJ, to her Highland nest at RSPB Loch Garten in Abernethy National Nature Reserve. Osprey fans from across the globe had been glued to the live webcam feed on the RSPB Loch Garten webpage, eagerly awaiting any signs of an osprey returning to the nest to breed, little daring to hope that EJ, who turns 21 this year, would come back from her wintering grounds.

She touched down on the world-famous osprey nest at around 5.45pm on Wednesday 21 March – equaling her record for her earliest return, prompting an outpouring of celebration and relief on the reserve’s social media feeds. After a traumatic season in 2017, there were fears that the now elderly EJ wouldn’t return to the site, after she left a month early on migration following an unsuccessful breeding season, but she’s proved yet again, to be a bird of strong character and good fortune.

Loch Garten Osprey Centre manager Jess Tomes, said, “Osprey migration is a dangerous business for these birds, so we’re never sure year-on-year which ospreys are going to return to our nest. EJ is so much a part of the fabric of Loch Garten – it’s like welcoming home a very dear friend. We’re just delighted!”

EJ, Loch Garten’s most successful breeding female osprey, will be hoping to pair up with a new mate this season after her faithful partner of nine years, Odin, disappeared mid-season in 2017. Hopes are running high that a new pairing will be able to add to EJ’s tally of twenty-five fledged osprey chicks from the Loch Garten nest.

Jess added “Who knows what the 2018 season will bring for EJ, but that’s part of the magic of the osprey story. It’s wildlife, raw and untamed, right there in front of you and all we can do is watch and wonder. Visitors to the centre never tire of the osprey story – it’s so dramatic – full of love, loss, betrayal, lots of fish and, all being well, chicks!.”

Loch Garten is famous as being the home of breeding ospreys since the 1950s and was where they first returned after becoming extinct as a breeding species in the early twentieth century. Ospreys have been rearing chicks at Loch Garten under the protection of RSPB Scotland and thousands of nest-watch volunteers, since 1959.

 

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