Mara on the move


We're about more than just birds (though obviously we like them a lot).

Mull Eagle Watch

Follows the fortunes of Mull's white-tailed eagles and the Isle's other fascinating wildlife

Mara on the move

  • Comments 33
  • Likes

As ever, it was a report from one of the farmers here yesterday which alerted me to some exciting developments. Many of the farmers help me so much in my field work and monitoring and they also do their bit to protect the eagles and help make Mull the wildlife haven it is. This call came from a farmer on the far south-west tip of Mull, down on 'the Ross'. He wasn't entirely sure what he'd just witnessed but he knew it was worth reporting. I'm always very grateful for that.

He'd been out feeding his cattle and sheep on a gorgeous warm October day and was on his way back to the farm when he noticed two figures sitting down on the beach. Some late tourists perhaps enjoying some solitude on the beautiful, wind swept  expanse of sand? He looked again as he got closer. They weren't people - they were eagles! For a moment, he wasn't sure which sort. They were dark, more golden eagle-like but he'd never seen goldies behave like this, sitting together on the beach!

But his description from then on gave the game away and has now been confirmed by our satellite tracking. The farmer could see a short aerial on the back of the eagle. We now know that Mara was on one of his long distance (ok, not that long distance) flights away from Loch Frisa, all the way down to the Ross of Mull. But best of all, Mara has a new friend! He was sitting on the beach watching the waves come in and out with a male chick from another nest on Mull in 2007 - it was 'White E'. White was the colour to be seen in last year. We've recorded him on and off over the last year, over on the mainland, visiting other islands but now back on Mull. For a few days he'd actually been seen at Loch Frisa so perhaps Mara had simply followed him off on an adventure?

It's very encouraging to see Mara doing what young sea eagles his age should be doing. He's exploring his surroundings, a little further day by day and socialising wirh other immature sea eagles. You do sometimes wonder about their vocalisations: "I've got wing tags. Never did like white and why 'E'? What on earth does that stand for? Anyway, what's that on your back?" "Some sort of sat tag thing. No idea what it does. No tags for me but a nice silver and red colour ring. Like it?"

The farmer was intrigued by the whole story that I was able to tell him about the history , so far, of these two young birds. Nobody particularly enjoys seeing noble birds like sea eagles with wing tags, colour rings and sat tags but for a few pioneering individuals, it does help tell us so much about their lives and this helps us manage the project overall for the benefit of the whole population. Fortunately there are still many 'untouched' eagles out there for the purists to enjoy, uncluttered by various tracking devices and looking serene. For those chosen ones, they seem to get on with their eagley lives perfectly happily and blissfully unaware of all the carry on around them by the scientists.

But for these two youngsters setting out on life's (hopefully long) journey there is now at least one more person out there on the Ross of Mull who will enjoy hearing of their adventures and exploits and who will pick up the 'phone the next time he spots them - or others - over the coming months. Tonight the wind is picking up, it's wet and blustery and I hope Mara has made it home safe to Loch Frisa. We'll have to wait for a new set of satellite data to tell us - or perhaps a friendly farmer might report him? Or maybe, 'White E' has taken him further afield - even off Mull for the first time. Is this the beginning of that great five year wander before he settles down? What will Breagha be feeling if her brother has left and when will Frisa and Skye notice he's really gone? These and many other unknowns will surface in the next few weeks and we'll be there to report on them.

For me though, for now, I have to tear myself away from this amazing place as I'm travelling south for meetings tomorrow night; then it's half term and time for a short holiday with the family. I'll be checking sat tag data whenever I can access it and will be reporting back on their progress. Or if I can't manage it, I'll try and find some nice, kind colleague in our Data Management Unit who can to keep you posted. Thank you for all your interest, support and encouraging comments up to now. It's very heartening to know someone out there is reading all this each night! And to know how much you care about the work we do and the fabulous white-tailed eagles of Mull. All being well, normal service will be resumed...stay tuned! Until the next time...

Dave Sexton RSPB Scotland Mull Officer


  • hi david hope for more stories soon ,hope you have had a nice rest i think you were worried that not many people were reading your stories, what a nice surprise with all the good comments about your blog.
  • hi david i think you were concerned that not many people were not reading your stories how nice for you to see so many comments andfans, please keep up the good work
  • Sunny Menora is it?? rain lashed, hail stones, thunder and lightning, gales - with the odd glimpse of blue sky and sunshine - that's what you left us behind!! Hope you had a good break - all sensible sea eagles have gone into hiding!
  • Wow David thank you for your message - in Menorca eh and cant keep away from us xxx Glad you are having a well deserved break but please hurry home because we are suffering withdrawal syptoms now 2 weeks was okay but 3 weeks is almost too much to cope with . Thank you to Roy for the update and yes Breagha left the mainland but I would love to know if she went back to Mull because the last update was 17th , still not long now and you will be home . Have a safe journey back and it will be lovely to hear from you . Ticketyboo nothing sinister at all Dave has just had a well deserved holiday - we are missing him but understand he needs a break .
  • Hello from sunny Menorca,

    Hoopoes, booted eagles, Sardinian warblers,  little egrets, red kites, Egyptian vultures...

    I´ve finally been able to catch up with what Mara and Breagha have been up to thanks to help from Roy Dennis at the Highland Foundation for Wildlife. It´s great to hear that Breagha has made her first flight away from Mull and that both chicks appear to be well. I get home this weekend so will be catching up properly with all their adventures and bringing you all up to date via the Blog asap. Stay tuned! Dave Sexton


  • Dave's doesnt seem to be available to tell one of his wonderful stories but theres no reason why there's not been an update on the young sea eagles movements; on the 17th Oct  (nearly a week ago now), Breagha flew east from the island to the mainland just to the south of Oban. A few days ago I sent a couple of messages to the blog to inform Dave's Devotees of this event & the website, where the info could be checked out, however who ever edits the stie has decided to deprive all the faithfull bloggers of the news; theres some thing very fishy going on, especially if this message does not get posted ! If helpful & informative messages cannot be posted, there must be a lot manipulation in the organisation ! Very sinister indeed.

  • those of you keen to hear about the 2 youngsters, will be interested to learn that on the 17th Oct. Breagha left the island & flew to the mainland just to the south of Oban; check out

  • Have you all signed the RSPB online pledge against illegal killing of Birds of Prey
  • Come home David....Missing all the stories and updates....
  • I'm getting withdrawal symptoms not having any new stories from Dave, but I hope that you're enjoying a well-earned break!! At least there's good news on Nethy's progress south to keep us going until Dave returns ...
  • Thanks to the RSPB staff who are still updating the map while Dave is away!

  • I hope that you are  coming back soon ....

  • Hi Valerie, I live near Newcastle but I am taking a holiday in July next year near Loch Ness so will get to Loch Garten a few times and also hopefully Mull. I will catch up with all the previous blogs now I have found the site as long as they arenot too sad.

    Wild Freckle, thanks for sharing your stories, not jealous at all really ;-)

  • Hi John Harwood from LG, glad you found this site eventually.  Dave tells a mean story and has us all waiting with baited breath for the next instalment.  The sea eagles are so handsome and like Valerie, plan to visit LG and Mull next year hopefully to see Frisa, Skye and maybe even chicks.  Thank you Dave for your kind thoughts of Deshar earlier in the blogs.  Have no computer at present but log on when I get the chance.

  • John - I do feel very lucky and pinch myself everyday - as a girl (now in advancing years) born and bred in the middle of London, to find myself in such beuatiful surroundings, with fantastic wildlife, is a dream come true - I do know how lucky I am! but also love to share it with others too if I can!