I like many Osprey and raptor followers have been waiting with baited breath for the news about the return of Lady, the female Osprey from Loch Lowes. Not just any Osprey though for she is thought to be the oldest breeding Osprey known by anyone, and she has just returned to her nest this year making it the 21st year of her at Loch Lowe!
Her exact age is not known but it is thought to be roughly 26 as Ospreys don't breed til there 3-4 years old and considering the average life span is 8 years she has become a natural phenomenon but what is just as incredible is the legacy this bird and her partner(s) have brought into the world. Within her 20 previous breeding years she has laid 58 eggs and reared and fledged 48 chicks from those eggs, now if that isn't some contribtion to Osprey conservation I don't know what is!
Now I also want to do some maths with you because the feats of this bird don't stop there, every year Lady will fly back to Western Africa for the winter and return to the UK the following Spring, a round trip of 6000 miles. If we work this out she will have fledged and flew to Africa some 3000 miles and she won't have returned until the age of lets say 4 ready to breed, another 3000 miles. She has continued this journey for a further 22 years if we assume she is now 26 so lets work this out?
22 x 6000 = 132,000
+ 6000 (Fledged Year & Return)
= 138,000 miles
So if Lady makes the journey back to Africa this Autumn she will have flown 138,000 miles in her life time, quite amazing! All this has now been documented in a book by Helen Armitage and if anyone deserves an autobiography this bird certainly does, I believe it can be found on Amazon soon.
So what does the future hold for Lady, well anyone who followed her last year may remember the scare she gave watchers when she failed to move from her nest for 48hrs, experts believing it to be her final moments until she began to rouse her self and make the journey back to Africa. Like any wild animal in there twilight years she is now surely on borrowed time, and whether her age will effect her fertility well only each breeding season will tell us that, but I for one will be making the trip to Loch Lowe to pay the Lady of the Loch herself a personal visit!
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