Bird expert and son, 7, drown in loch

Father and son killed as their canoe capsizes during day trip to Loch Maree

A leading ornithologist and his seven-year-old son have been named as the victims of a double drowning when their canoe capsized on a remote loch in the Scottish Highlands.

Dr Michael Madders, who was a well-known expert on birds of prey and specialised in monitoring the effects of wind farms on birdlife, died after setting out with his son Daniel on a planned 20-minute trip around Loch Maree in Wester Ross on Sunday afternoon.

The alarm was raised when Christine Cain, the partner of Dr Madders and Daniel's mother, found their empty upturned canoe on the shore of the lake. A coastguard helicopter rapidly spotted the bodies of the father and son in the water wearing fluorescent life jackets.

They were airlifted to the Western Isles Hospital in Stornoway but declared dead on arrival.

Residents said that conditions on the lake, which is close to the family's home in Poolewe, Ross-shire, were notoriously changeable and had been particularly poor on Sunday with driving rain and waves that could easily overwhelm a small vessel such as a canoe.

Nick Thompson, manager of the Loch Maree hotel, said the lake was ill-equipped to deal with large numbers of inexperienced kayakers using the beauty spot. Despite the absence of a dedicated rescue boat, the loch is increasingly popular with visitors who hire canoes.

He said: "I warned off three other kayakers on Sunday – the waves were 3ft high. It was dangerous conditions, there were white caps everywhere. A lot of people just don't know the loch. It can change quickly and become very treacherous suddenly."

The hotelier said that a father and daughter had been lucky to escape with their lives three weeks earlier when their canoe capsized but they had been able to swim to the shore.

It is thought that Dr Madders, who was 52, had been using his own canoe when he and his son got into trouble.

The wildlife researcher was a respected authority on birds of prey and played a leading role in the reintroduction of white-tailed eagles to Cumbria in the 1980s. He was also responsible for supervising studies of harrier species in Kazakhstan alongside his work in Britain, which included writing a popular book, Where to Watch Birds in Scotland.

More recently he had worked on the hazards caused to bird populations by wind farms and devised one of the first techniques for measuring the impact of turbines on wildlife. He had appeared as an expert witness at numerous public inquiries into the siting of wind farms.

The headteacher at Daniel's school said he had been "a polite, happy and enthusiastic wee boy".

Margaret Young, of Poolewe Primary School, said: "He had a unique way of expressing himself and a fantastic sense of humour. We will miss him terribly. This is the start of a very painful process as the news begins to sink in. It has been a privilege for us all to have known Daniel."

Police said a file on the tragedy would be passed to the Procurator Fiscal Service but underlined that there did not appear to be any suspicious circumstances.

Chief Inspector Michael Coats said: "This is a tragic accident and at this time our thoughts and sympathies are with the family."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Sport
Raheem Sterling of Liverpool celebrates scoring the opening goal
footballLIVE: Follow all the latest from tonight's Capital One quarter-finals
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Scandi crush: Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

Th Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

Rebranding Christmas

More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up