Ospreys are flourishing across Lochaber
OSPREYS are a major tourist draw and many people make special trips to see and photograph these magnificent fish- eating raptors.
Osprey migrations to and from West Africa are followed online using data captured from satellite-tagged individuals and the breeding progress of star pairs is followed via nest cameras.
This year a webcam has been placed on the nest of one of our local pairs located in a remote location on the banks of Loch Arkaig, by the Woodland Trust Scotland (WTS), with support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, and it is hoped that they will also soon achieve internet stardom.
To date the male has been busy sprucing up his long- established nest, but is still awaiting the return of his mate.
Wonderful images of the osprey nest can be seen on the WTS website http:// www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/ support- us/ support-an-appeal/arkaig-pinewoods/ wildlife/osprey- cam.
The positioning of the camera on Loch Arkaig is highly appropriate, as it is thought that this was the last site for breeding ospreys before they were finally driven to temporary extinction in Britain in 1916.
Birds naturally started to re- colonise Scotland in the 1950s and, protected by the RSPB, made a major comeback, to the extent that there could well be more than 200 pairs nesting in Scotland now.
Today there are probably three pairs of osprey nesting on Loch Arkaig, with others nearby on Loch Lochy and Loch Garry. They are spreading in the area, and may be seen fishing on almost any water.
Lucky visitors sometimes see them from the heart of Fort William hovering above the Lochy estuary.
Often choosing an old pine tree in which to nest, with a good vantage over the surrounding countryside, ospreys use a simple platform of sticks, lined with mosses.
Man-made platforms may be used.
The local ospreys seem to be relatively late to arrive, at around the beginning of April.
Males appear first, but once the females return they are quick to breed and lay eggs.
If the fishing is good, ospreys are quite capable of rearing two young.
These hatch in early June and fledge in early August, but can be seen around the nest area until they depart again at the beginning of September.