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More than 60,000 people tuned in to the livestream camera feed at Loch Arkaig this summer to watch local ospreys rear their chicks.
The viewers were mainly from around the UK but there were some from the USA, Australia, Canada, Norway, France, Italy, Sweden and Finland.
According to the Woodland Trust which operates the camera and manages the Loch Arkaig Pine Forest, the live pictures were watched by 62,000 during the summer, the majority of whom were returners rather than one-time viewers.
Osprey mum Aila and oldest chick Mallie have already departed for their migration to warmer climes, probably West Africa, but Portugal and Spain have also been used as osprey wintering grounds by Scottish birds.
Younger chick Rannoch and dad Louis were expected to have joined them on the long flight south this week.
After a traumatic season in 2018 with a pine marten taking the eggs and numerous technical issues with the equipment, it has been wonderful to have had such a successful year, according to the trust’s George Anderson.
He told the Lochaber Times: ‘Two new young ospreys sent out into the world and a smooth running livestream from the nest. Massive thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery who make it all possible and to the hardy bunch at Lochielnet who keep the wires humming.
‘There are vast numbers of people enjoying the show across Britain and the world thanks to their efforts. We did have some early jitters this season when the pair decamped to another tree for a while but thankfully they came back in view of the camera to lay their three eggs.
‘They also had a running feud with a tawny owl which dive-bombed the nest at night on several occasions.
‘The middle egg didn’t fully hatch but two healthy chicks were raised. We did initially think they were both female, but as they grew older we wondered if Mallie, the oldest, might be male. The jury is still out.
‘The live camera stream will be back in spring 2020. Fingers crossed Louis and Aila will be back for their fourth season, delighting their thousands of fans.’
Interestingly, of the fish brought to the nest by the parent birds, brown trout made up the bulk of the diet from freshwater along with the occasional grilse or sea trout.
Louis has also headed to sea for mackerel and flounder. This year, however, there have been hardly any mackerel but some saltwater firsts – a codling and several pollack/coley – and in the freshwater category, Louis’ first pike that trust personnel know of.
Osprey chicks Mallie and Rannoch on the Loch Arkaig nest earlier this summer. Photograph: Lewis Pate.
NO F36 osprey chicks Mallie and Rannoch