An infamous love cheat osprey has laid her first egg of the breeding season after having returned 3,000 miles to her Scottish nest.
RSPB Scotland had only last month celebrated the return of EJ the osprey to its Loch Garten nature reserve in Speyside, a full 12 days earlier than she appeared last year.
Now she has got down to business quickly and laid her first egg of 2016. It is the earliest EJ has laid an egg.
EJ has been a regular resident at the site since 2003 and has raised a total 23 chicks there to date, mainly with her usual partner Odin, who arrived only ten days ago.
However, last year, in a twist more familiar to viewers of the Jeremy Kyle Show than devoted osprey followers, the paternity of EJ’s egg came into question.
Ospreys migrate to Africa in August and September before returning to Scotland for spring and summer, usually in March or early April.
Jess Tomes, from RSPB Scotland, manages the Osprey Centre. She said: “Last year was like something out of a soap opera at Loch Garten. Both EJ and Odin were present but we had an interloping male osprey visiting the nest attempting to ingratiate himself with EJ while Odin was away on hunting trips.
“The rival male actually kicked Odin and EJ’s eggs from the nest! In the end things got so torrid that the birds failed to raise a family for the first time in years. This season we’re hoping for plainer sailing and a happy osprey family.”
In 2007, another male called Henry kicked the eggs fathered by a rival from EJ’s nest before his own clutch with the same female bird failed.
Loch Garten is famous for being the home of breeding ospreys since the 1950s, and the site is where the birds first returned to after becoming locally extinct as a breeding species in the early twentieth century. RSPB Scotland has been protecting ospreys at Loch Garten since 1958, and 2016 will mark the 58th season of “Operation Osprey”.