Lochaber osprey Doddie causes a flap for Shetland bird-watchers

Doddie the osprey captured by local naturalist, Kristofer Wilson on Shetland at the weekend. Photograph: Kristofer Wilson. NO F21 DoddieKristoferWilson4
Doddie the osprey captured by local naturalist, Kristofer Wilson on Shetland at the weekend. Photograph: Kristofer Wilson. NO F21 DoddieKristoferWilson4

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An osprey born at Loch Arkaig in Lochaber and named in honour of Scottish rugby legend Doddie Weir has been spotted in Shetland causing great excitement amongst island birdwatchers.

Doddie showed up at a loch called Water of Sae on Saturday. Word spread quickly and a flurry of photographs began to appear on social media.

Doddie hatched at a nest at Loch Arkaig Pine Forest where Woodland Trust Scotland has operated a nest camera supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery each summer since 2017.

In 2020 the osprey family became a huge hit during the first lockdown – raising chicks Doddie, Vera and Captain in front of an online audience of 400,000.

After Doddie was spotted on Shetland at Water of Sae on Saturday, he was identified by the number on his leg tag (JJ6) which showed up on photographs once blown up.

Local naturalist Kristofer Wilson said: ‘Word there was an osprey spread through Shetland Bird Club and I had an alert on my phone while I was out photographing butterflies.

‘It was just over the hill from where I was working so I quickly headed over. I was really pleased to capture shots that showed up the ring number and when I looked it up online huge amounts of material came up.

‘It was great to see the history of this bird. I am delighted that his online fans are enjoying my pictures of him.’

George Anderson, of Woodland Trust Scotland, said it was the second time Doddie had found the limelight since leaving Loch Arkaig.

‘On his first migration south he stopped off at the Avalon marshes in Somerset for a couple of weeks,’ explained Mr Anderson.

‘The area is thick with birdwatchers and wildlife photographers so there were multiple reports. This seems to be the same situation again. He has found a keen audience amongst Shetland’s birders. It is almost as if raised on camera as he was, this bird was born to be a celebrity.

‘We think this is Doddie’s first visit back to Britain. Young birds not yet ready to breed often roam over a wide area before returning south. It is a bit like a gap year. He will likely get down to the grown-up business of raising a family next year.’

Doddie was raised by osprey pair Louis and Aila. Sadly 2020 turned out to be Aila’s last breeding season as she failed to return the following year and is presumed to have perished.

Louis has a new mate called Dorcha and the pair are currently incubating three eggs at Loch Arkaig with the first hatching expected around the end of the month.

Doddie, meanwhile, who will be two years old on May 29, looks set to continue causing excitement on Shetland.

As of Monday morning he had moved to the bigger nearby Loch of Voe where he was continuing to delight birdwatchers and photographers.

The Loch Arkaig livestreams can be viewed at a dedicated page 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.

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.