Nests, boats, picnics, swims and spectacular grannies!
Earlier this month five Woodland Trust Scotland volunteers headed off for an intrepid trip with us into the wilds of our wonderful Loch Arkaig Pine Forest up in the Highlands.
Two of the volunteers, Liz and Michelle, are volunteer Arkaig Ospreycam Researchers; and incredibly dedicated team who help us to review and clip footage from our nest at Arkaig. Have a look at this clip from our website and you’ll see more about the technical challenges of running a webcam in such a wild and remote place. You’ll see Liz being interviewed about her volunteering role. Our group on the day also included two of the avid participants on our online webcam chat, by Jill Donnachie, George Anderson and me from the Woodland Trust Scotland staff team, and by my husband and one of my daughters, Isobel (age 8), both of whom have been roped into being Woodland Trust volunteers!
On our Arkaig Day we were taken to see the ospreycam nest by Lewis, our local raptor expert. It was a tough old climb, but Lewis kindly took those who didn’t fancy the steepest bits up in our all terrain vehicle.
It was an emotional moment for many, including me, to see the nest we’ve been watching online for two years in its beautiful mountain setting.
After a picnic lunch back down at the loch shore, Lewis took us for a trip west along the loch in Arkaig Fire, the Woodland Trust boat, an essential part of a site manager’s toolkit for such an inaccessible forest. We were shown the sea eagle nest that we followed a few years ago during a successful breeding season when we were able to ring the chicks. The new nesting platforms for ospreys were also a highlight of our boat trip, as were the staggeringly beautiful “granny pines”; the ancient Scot’s pines that grow from the shore up into the hills by the loch on our site.
Those of you who are following the story of our osprey pair, named Louis and Aila, will know that breeding failed this year; the three eggs were predated by pine martens. This was nature in the raw; it was both sad and awe inspiring to see the fast and accurate work of the pine marten as it carefully took the eggs, one by one, from the nest.
As if that wasn’t enough disappointment for the year, our wonderful nestcam was struck by lightning and hasn’t been operating for a while. However, we’ve replaced it temporarily with a trailcam, and on our day out, Lewis made light work of climbing the tree to fetch the SD card from this so that we could check for any footage.
At the end of the day, Isobel and I managed a swim in Loch Arkaig. I fulfilled a long term ambition of swimming across the loch, a beautiful experience!
Thanks for a great season Ospreycam volunteers! Our birds have headed back to Senegal and surrounds for the winter now, but we have everything crossed for a successful breeding season in 2019!