Africa-bound Lochaber osprey causes a stir in Somerset

Doddie JJ6 at the Avalon Marshes in Somerset. NO F36 Avalon Osprey 01
Doddie JJ6 at the Avalon Marshes in Somerset. Photograph: Andrew Kirby. NO F36 Avalon Osprey 01

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A Lochaber osprey has caused a stir in Somerset after stopping off for a week on his way to Africa.

Doddie JJ6 is the oldest of this year’s trio of chicks from the nest at Loch Arkaig. Named in honour of Scots rugby legend Doddie Weir, the osprey was last seen at Loch Arkaig on August 15.

On August 23, an osprey was spotted at the Avalon Marshes on the Somerset levels. Word spread amongst the area’s birdwatchers and photographer Andrew Kirby took some shots the following week. Birdwatcher Tony Rowe reported sighting the osprey through the Roy Dennis Foundation. Other photographers have been capturing shots of the bird too.

Roy Dennis Foundation enlarged Mr Rowe’s photographs to correctly identify the osprey Doddie JJ6.

George Anderson of Woodland Trust Scotland told the Lochaber Times: ‘Since 2017, this family has successfully fledged three chicks but we have never had a report of them away from Loch Arkaig before.

‘It is really exciting Doddie has been seen by so many people in Somerset. He is at a Natural England nature reserve – so a very good choice of location. Young ospreys don’t fish for themselves until they migrate so he is likely honing his skills on the lake’s roach and perch before moving on to West Africa.

‘He turned three months old on Saturday August 29 so it is amazing to relate the tiny fluffball we have all watched on camera with the poised, grown up bird now fishing in Somerset.

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Doddie JJ6 made a stop-over in Somerset during his flight to Africa. Photograph: Andrew Kirby.
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‘The livestreaming nest camera’s many viewers are pleased to have heard word and seen pictures of Doddie. It was quite an unexpected treat and rounds off what has been a brilliant season with three new young birds successfully fledged.’

Mum Aila was last seen on August 22, while the youngest chick, Captain JJ7, was last seen on August 23.

As of Monday this week, Vera JJ8 and Dad Louis were still at Loch Arkaig but are likely to go at any time.

The livestreaming nest camera, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, has become a lockdown hit in this its fourth year in operation. The audience last year was 60,000 but rose to nearly 400,000 in 2020.

‘So many people are telling us it has kept them sane during lockdown or shielding. It was clearly the slice of nature so many people needed when cooped up at home,’ added Mr Anderson.

Previous fledged chicks are Lachlan from 2017 and Mallie and Rannoch from 2019. Mr Anderson continued: ‘We hope Louis and Aila will return again next year to raise another brood on camera.

‘From being clumsy novices in 2017, they are now in their prime and fine parents. Every osprey ate every day for the entire season, which is no mean feat.’

The ospreys have gone through 560 – and still counting – fish since Louis and Aila reunited on April 6, comprising 446 trout, 61 flatfish, 31 mackerel, 11 grilse or sea trout, seven Arctic charr and four pike.


Doddie JJ6 at the Avalon Marshes in Somerset. Photograph: Andrew Kirby.

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