A SCOTTISH osprey whose name went to Mars thanks to Nasa has been spotted and photographed in Senegal in West Africa.

The bird, named Rannoch, fledged at Loch Arkaig Pine Forest, Lochaber in 2019 along with its sibling Mallie.

A live webcam has operated from the nest since 2017 with support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Hundreds of thousands of fans around the world have watched a total of six chicks raised on the nest over the years, but this is the first sighting of one in its wintering grounds.

The bird was identified by its blue leg ring bearing the number JJ2. Senegal-based French ornithologist Jean-Marie Dupart photographed it on January 23 at the Sine-Saloum Delta, which is a national park and Unesco World Heritage site.

The photographer reported his sighting to Dr Tim Mackrill of Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation, who collates information on tagged British ospreys, and word was sent back from there to Woodland Trust Scotland.

Rannoch was named in honour of Woodland Trust Scotland volunteer Liz Bracken who watches the nest via telescope from the other side of the loch, and reports on the ospreys’ activity in the wider landscape. As there was already an osprey elsewhere called Bracken, the Arkaig bird was given the name Rannoch which means “bracken” in Gaelic.

“I am delighted to see Rannoch is doing well in Africa,” said Bracken.

“It has been fascinating these last few years immersing myself in the life of the birds at Loch Arkaig.

“How extraordinary to see our osprey 3000 miles away in Senegal. You cannot be anything other than in awe of these birds and the lives they lead. This will whet everyone’s appetite for the start of the 2022 breeding season.”

The Loch Arkaig nest camera will be online again from mid-March with ospreys expected back around the start of April. Woodland Trust Scotland and local charity Arkaig Community Forest bought the spectacular 2500 acre site in 2016. 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 the nearby communities of Achnacarry, Bunarkaig and Clunes. 

Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “We are delighted that support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery has allowed huge numbers of people to enjoy the natural spectacle at Loch Arkaig Pine Forest. Long may these magnificent birds inspire us all.”