Delight as Loch Arkaig ospreys lay first egg of the season

A still image captured from the live nest cam this morning as the female osprey. NO F18 osprey cam
A still image captured from the live nest cam this morning as the female osprey. NO F18 osprey cam

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Ospreys being filmed live by an nest camera in Lochaber have laid their first egg of the season and the Woodland Trust Scotland hopes the osprey family will provide a beneficial dose of nature online during the current coronavirus lockdown.

Egg number one appeared at 6.20am on Thursday and, astonishingly, it is the third year in a row, that the first egg of this osprey pair has been laid on April 23. Every year since the camera was in position, the eggs have arrived on the same day.

Since 2017, viewers from around the world have watched entranced as live images are streamed from the nest camera, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, and which can be seen at www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/ospreycam

Trust director Carol Evans said: ‘Many people who will never visit this special woodland helped to buy it four years ago by contributing to our fundraising appeal.

‘The osprey camera was launched with them in mind. We wanted to offer a slice of wild forest life to people near and far. This year, with so many confined at home, this online experience becomes even more precious.’

Sanjay Singh, senior programme manager at People’s Postcode Lottery, added: ‘We are delighted that support from our players helps bring this wildlife spectacle to homes across the country, and indeed the world.

‘Contact with the natural world is so important, and while we are staying at home to keep ourselves and each other safe, it’s fantastic that people will be able to continue to see nature in action.’

It was in 2016 that Woodland Trust Scotland bought the spectacular 2,500 acre site in partnership with local group Arkaig Community Forest.

View east from hill above Loch Arkaig, Scotland. NO-F18-Loch-Arkaig-Pine-Forest-2-Credit-John-MacPherson-scaled.jpg
View east from hill above Loch Arkaig, Scotland.
Photograph: John MacPherson

It contains areas of magnificent but degraded ancient Caledonian pinewood, which has been planted with non-native conifers.

A recently completed bridge and track upgrade will allow the extraction of huge quantities of non-native timber – freeing up Loch Arkaig’s ancient pine trees to recolonise the hillsides with their seedlings.

The restoration aims to demonstrate that conservation management can provide social and economic benefits for local communities.

Over the next five years the trust plans to remove 70,000 tonnes of non-native trees from the Loch Arkaig woodlands using specialist equipment, as well as fight tree disease by taking out infected lodgepole pine; restore up to 620 acres of degraded peatland habitats and control invasive non-native species such as Japanese knotweed.

Commandos from various allied armies trained at Loch Arkaig during the Second World War. The forest is home to sea eagles, golden eagles, ospreys, pine marten, otters and deer among many other species.

Arkaig Community Forest is a local community-based charity, which shares ambitious plans to restore native woodland habitats across the entire forest and demonstrate the ecological, social and economic value of ancient woodland restoration.

In particular, it aims to support the remote community living around the forest to benefit from active sustainable forest management activities such as woodfuel production, eco-tourism and adding value to timber.