The public is being asked to help name three osprey chicks that have become an international hit during coronavirus lockdown this summer. 

Barely five weeks old, the trio at Loch Arkaig Pine Forest in Lochaber are watched by over a quarter of a million fans on a livestreaming nest camera supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

The youngsters were confirmed over the weekend to be two males and a female.

Sanjay Singh, senior programmes manager at People’s Postcode Lottery said:

"We’re delighted our players’ funding has provided a window into this incredible osprey family, giving much needed support to so many people during this strange summer. The naming of the chicks adds a bit of extra fun, so we hope everyone will come up with good suggestions and take part in the eventual vote. And we still have a couple of months left to enjoy watching our osprey family before they leave on migration." 

George Anderson of Woodland Trust Scotland said:

“The chicks were ringed at the end of last week and measurements taken at the time suggest they are two males and a female. It comes down to weight plus measurements of the beak, talon and wing size.”

The naming discussion and vote will take place across the Woodland Trust’s social media channels this week. 

The nest camera at Loch Arkaig Pine Forest in Lochaber has been running since 2017. Last year it attracted an audience of 60,000. This year it has seen its audience shoot up to 290,000 viewers so far, with almost two million individual visits to the web page. 

George Anderson added: “Some people follow it all day every day. We have heard time and again from people who are shielding that it has helped keep them sane.”

The livestream has been a big hit with the media as an antidote to virus news too, with appearances on BBC Breakfast, Channel 4 News and BBC Springwatch. 

The three siblings have tag numbers JJ6, JJ7 and JJ8. They are described as:

  • JJ6: Male. The eldest. Hatched on 29 May. The calm, patient one.
  • JJ8: Female. Hatched 1 June. The born leader!
  • JJ7: Male. Hatched 3 June. The feisty one. Small and had to be assertive to survive.

The birds are expected to take their first flights by the end of the month before migrating south towards the end of August. 

The osprey family’s story at Loch Arkaig began in 2017 when an inexperienced young male took possession of the nest. He was nicknamed Lonesome Louis as he had to wait 18 days before attracting a mate. She was named Aila and that first year they raised a single chick – Lachlan. In 2018 all three of the pair’s eggs were taken by a pine marten. In 2019 they successfully raised two female chicks – Rannoch and Mallie. 

Loch Arkaig was the last known breeding site of ospreys in Britain before the species was wiped out around the time of the First World War. The species has been making a gradual comeback since returning to Loch Garten on Speyside in the 1950s. 

Woodland Trust Scotland bought Loch Arkaig Pine Forest in 2016 in partnership with local group Arkaig Community Forest. They have long term plans to restore the ancient forest while stimulating economic activity in the local community. The livestreaming nest camera offers a wild slice of forest life with the aim of publicising the fundraising appeal for the restoration. 

Commandos from many nations trained at the forest during World War II, and a wildfire started during live ammunition training cooked hundreds of trees in their own resin. These 'ghost pines' stand preserved across the hillside to this day. One of Aila’s favourite places to perch is in one of these trees.

Notes to editors

For further information contact George Anderson on 07770 700 631.

About the Woodland Trust

The Woodland Trust is the largest woodland conservation charity in the UK. It has over 500,000 supporters. It wants to see a UK rich in native woods and trees for people and wildlife.

The Trust has three key aims: 

  1. protect ancient woodland which is rare, unique and irreplaceable
  2. restoration of damaged ancient woodland, bringing precious pieces of our natural history back to life
  3. plant native trees and woods with the aim of creating resilient landscapes for people and wildlife.

Established in 1972, the Woodland Trust now has over 1,000 sites in its care covering approximately 29,000 hectares. Access to its woods is free so everyone can benefit from woods and trees.

About Arkaig Community Forest

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.

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