When one of the Lake District’s famous ospreys returned without his partner of five years this Easter, staff, volunteers and visitors to the Lake District Osprey Project (LDOP) feared that he would be left heartbroken.

But ‘Unring’ has finally found love with a new female osprey, which arrived over the May bank holiday weekend.

Intrigue was caused at the start of the season at Bassenthwaite Lake when Unring returned first and then a new, un-ringed female turned up a few days later. The pair were seen mating and feeding together but the new female moved on after a few days. It was expected that the newly single bird would be joined and reclaimed by his old partner, KL, but she never arrived.

This left Unring sprucing up the nest site alone, with sadly no female to impress. However, hope for a successful breeding season has been restored by the arrival of a new female on Saturday May 5.

Cath Johnson from the LDOP said: “It has certainly been a dramatic start to the season this year! Several Bassenthwaite osprey fans have been asking why KL hasn’t returned but as she is not satellite tagged, we can’t know for sure unless she is found or photographed. There were a lot of ospreys arriving back late this year, due to severe weather further down their migration path, so we weren’t worried at first. However, she would not have been delayed for this amount of time. Ospreys spend the winter in West Africa, so have a long journey to the UK in spring. Natural dangers such as weather and predators, as well as human-caused problems such as the loss of fishing habitat for feeding en route, or shooting, can affect their return. There are a lot of potential perils for migrating birds to overcome.”

The vast majority of established breeding ospreys return successfully every year, but a small percentage will unfortunately die over the winter or on their way back. Ospreys live an average of seven to ten years, although occasionally they have been known to live over 20. They don’t begin breeding until they are three to five years old. KL fledged from a nest in Inverness-shire in 2009, so would have been nine this year, within the average expected lifespan of an osprey.

Ms Johnson added: “It is sad that KL has not come back this year, as she has bred for the previous five seasons at Bassenthwaite and was a great mum, hatching 13 chicks in that time. However, this new female arriving this weekend has raised our hopes of having chicks this year, as the pair have been seen mating, and Unring has been adding flowers to the nest, so he is trying to impress her. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for them.”