Louis the Lockdown Osprey returns to Lochaber

Louis shortly after his arrival on Monday morning. Photograph courtesy of WTML.

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Lockdown Louis the Loch Arkaig osprey has returned to Lochaber and settled on a nest with a newly-installed camera.

Louis arrived at his pine forest home on Monday morning and was later joined by his mate Dorcha who he welcomed with a fish.

Woodland Trust Scotland has operated a nest camera supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery each summer since 2017, building up a substantial world viewership as fans followed the family life of ospreys Louis and Aila as they raised their six chicks.

The camera was a particular hit during 2020s first pandemic lockdown clocking up 400,000 viewers.

But in 2021 only Louis returned and he eventually followed a new female off to another nest in the forest. As a result, the camera nest lay empty for most of the summer.

George Anderson of Woodland Trust Scotland said: ‘Louis and his new mate Dorcha raised two chicks so it was a successful year for the ospreys, but a disappointing one for their internet fans.

‘We wanted to give ourselves the best odds of seeing a full summer of activity this year  so we fitted a second camera to Louis’ new nest. It’s a few kilometres away from his original tree. Depending on osprey activity, we may revert to follow just one of the nests as the season progresses, but if we are lucky and both nests are occupied we will keep streaming from both.’

Even one camera was a technical challenge at the Arkaig pine forest. There is no visitor centre with wi-fi and electricity to plug into. All the kit is powered by solar panels and a signal is beamed across the loch before it enters the Locheilnet system and off out across the world.

Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: ‘It is a real sign summer is on the way when the ospreys arrive back in the Highlands. We are delighted that support from players of People’s Postcode lottery allows people across the UK and the world to enjoy this stunning natural spectacle.’

The livestreams can be viewed on the Woodland Trust website Loch Arkaig Osprey Cam: Live Webcam – Woodland Trust

Woodland Trust Scotland and Arkaig Community Forest bought the site in 2016 from Forest Enterprise Scotland under the National Forest Land Scheme. Their aim is to restore native woodland habitats; re-connect local people with the management and stewardship of the site and use the woods to underpin sustainable rural development in Achnacarry, Bunarkaig and Clunes.

Work began over the winter to remove 70,000 tonnes of non-native timber from the forest, freeing up the remaining ancient Caledonian pines to recolonise with their offspring.

Photograph: Louis shortly after his arrival on Monday morning. Photograph courtesy of WTML. NO_F15_LouisLochArkaigOsprey7