Rangers at the Loch of the Lowes confirmed that the first tiny chick to hatch emerged from its shell on Thursday morning.
The first osprey chick of the season has hatched at the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Loch of the Lowes Wildlife Reserve in Perthshire.
At 10:36pm on Wednesday night reserve staff spotted a hole in one of the three eggs that female osprey NC0 has been incubating since the middle of April.
On Thursday morning at 10:26am they were rewarded with a first look at the tiny chick as it emerged from its egg.
Osprey eggs hatch 1-2 days apart, in the order they were laid. In the first few hours after hatching, the chicks are incredibly weak and vulnerable.
The young birds quickly grow in size and strength, thanks to a high protein diet of fish regularly provided by their parents.
Sara Rasmussen, Perthshire ranger at the Scottish Wildlife Trust, said: “We’re delighted to have our first osprey chick of the season. Hopefully it won’t be long until all three chicks have hatched out.
“Thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery, our staff and more than 60 volunteers have been keeping an eye on the nest around the clock for several weeks to keep the nest safe from disturbance. Seeing the eggs successfully hatch is a huge moment for the team.
“The first few weeks of a young osprey’s life are fascinating to watch. They develop incredibly quickly and they are noticeably different each day. This rapid development is vital, because they need to grow to adult size in time to make the long migration south at the end of the summer.”
Ospreys were extinct in Britain for much of the 20th century. They began to recover in the 1960s and an estimated 300 pairs of ospreys now breed in the UK each summer.
Most of these birds migrate to West Africa but some winter in Spain and Portugal.
The recovery of ospreys is thanks to the efforts of conservation charities including the Scottish Wildlife Trust.
The Osprey Protection Programme at Loch of the Lowes Visitor Centre & Wildlife Reserve is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
Laura Chow, head of charities at the People's Postcode Lottery, added: "We're proud to support the Osprey Protection Programme at Loch of the Lowes Wildlife Reserve. I'm delighted that the team's dedication has been rewarded with the hatching of a tiny osprey chick."
Loch of the Lowes Visitor Centre is currently open seven days a week from 10:30am to 5pm. The Scottish Wildlife Trust’s live osprey webcam ensures people from around the world can follow events as they happen.