Lady the Osprey: There's life in the old girl yet – a warm welcome to a regal eagle

It wasn't all defecting foreign ministers landing in Britain last week. Some incomers brought only hope and pleasure, like Lady, the 26-year-old osprey making her 21st consecutive return to breed in Scotland. Here, in an exclusive interview, she gives her reaction to arriving 'home'
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The Independent Online

Ah, summer in Scotland! The sunlit glens, the drip of fresh rain from the pines, the evening light over the water, and as much fish as you can catch. Whenever my friends ask: "Lady, where are you going for the Season?" I always reply: "Why, Scotland, of course. Wouldn't be seen anywhere else."

I've been doing it for 21 years now. Of course, it's a bit of a haul from West Africa where I always winter – 3,000 miles to be exact, and, I can tell you, at my age I feel every wing beat.

But once I see those White Cliffs of Dover my spirits lift, and in no time at all I'm skimming over my beloved Loch of the Lowes. I love Perthshire – it has so much more class than some places I could mention.

But this is no rest cure. I've hardly arrived and enjoyed my first freshly caught trout than I'm down to work. There's the nest to repair (no simple task – I swear some of those twigs have minds of their own); those little personal touches to add (I do so hate those new minimalist nests); and a suitable mate to find. People say they're a bit thin on the ground up here in rural Scotland. But then I'm not looking on the ground, dearie. Up in the sky, that's where you spot the incoming males.

You might think that at my age I can't afford to be too picky, but don't you believe it. Experience counts for a lot, and the boys I know prefer someone who's been around the loch a few times, if you know what I mean. I'm a much better bet than some of those young flighty pieces who are all flap and no brood.

Of course, I'm something of a fixture round here in Perthshire these days, and I've seen some changes, I can tell you. The locals used to be a bit stand-offish, but now one's quite the celebrity. Along they come in their cagoules and anoraks for a gawp, there's a webcam trained on me round the clock (I do wish they wouldn't broadcast one's more private moments), and a sweet little thing called Helen Armitage has even written my biography. But I won't do Twitter – you've got to draw the line somewhere. As I say to the children (raised 48 here, you know), they might take your eggs, but never let them take your dignity.

I quite like the attention, but I do wish they wouldn't harp on about one's age so much. I know I've been coming here for, well, more years than you've got fingers and toes, but there's no need for anno domini to feature quite so much in the coverage. I mean, last August when I set off back to Afrique, some of the headlines were, well, uncalled for. "Nature lovers wave sad farewell to ageing osprey" indeed! You expect better of the Press and Journal.

Over the winter I thought: I'll show them! So I did. Landed here last week. There's life in the old girl yet, you see.

Lady was talking to David Randall

'Lady of the Loch: The Incredible Story of Britain's Oldest Osprey' by Helen Armitage is published by Constable and Robinson