July, 2009

Wildlife

Wildlife
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
  • One Day I'll Fly Away ........

    but not quite yet!

     

    This evening I went to check up on Half Pint to see whether he has fledged yet.  He and his sibling were 12 weeks old today!  Its a bit of a precarious walk and loaded with a telescope, binoculars, daughter in tow, we tentatively made our way to the best position to view the nest without any of us tripping up, dropping the scope or the other threat, getting soaked to the skin by the heavy, intermittent showers we have had on and off today.  At Loch Frisa the weather has been mainly bright and blustery with the odd heavy shower passing through - I thought a good day for fledging - a nice blustery breeze - great for taking that first step off the nest.

     

    As we tentatively approached, with heart in mouth never quite knowing what you are going to find, we rounded the corner - a beautiful sight of an adult flying around enjoying the break in the weather - then the heart stopping moment as the nest comes into view (now, if I was Dave he would leave you hanging for a day or two!!).

     

    Sat on the edge of the nest, two beautiful chocolate brown chicks, just chilling, looking around, watching Mum flying about.  I was sure one of them would have gone today but no - they looked far too comfortable.  Hopefully in the next few days, Mum and Dad will bring food but not take it directly to the nest, thereby trying to coax them out - thats when the fun starts for us, trying to keep an eye on them.  But for this evening, Half Pint is looking fantastic, ready to face the world (well, in his own time).

     

    As we opened the Hide at Loch Frisa this morning, we were treated to a beautiful display from Heather and Frisa - Frisa flying high on a thermal, Heather, flying lower and just still a little bit wobbly as she turns but beautiful nonetheless.  They spent the morning sat on the other side of the Loch keeping each other company, sat side by side - our visitors were over the moon.

     

    Managed to capture this shot of a Lapwing - often seen in the fields at Loch Frisa Photo Debby Thorne

     

     

     

    Debby Thorne - White Tailed Eagle Information Officer, Isle of Mull

  • What a Clever Girl!

    Well, Heather is turning out to be a quick learner.  On Friday as we watched her in a field in front of the Hide, it was clear she had caught something and was feeding.  It was very difficult to see what it was, but I was surprised how quickly she had managed to work out how to catch something.  Today, she took another step forward in her journey towards independence.  As we looked out of the Hide window, we saw a large bird hunting over the crag in the distance.  From the profile, we could tell it was a sea eagle but on closer inspection with binoculars we were taken aback to see the dark brown profile of our Heather!  She had her legs and head down, looking for prey - she wobbled slightly but eventually slipped from our view.  Amazing at this early stage she has started hunting for herself.  Skye and Frisa will still be bringing in food for a while yet but the fact she is hunting on her own means she has the instinct to go out and look for food herself.  What a gal!

     

    Breaking news tonight!  If you check the Google Earth movements for Mara and Breagha, for the first time, neither birds are on Mull.  Mara has been flying around Morvern and Breagha has been up to Loch Maree.  These birds are now out on their own in the big wide world.  Without the satellite tags, we would have no way of knowing their movements and would have to rely on sightings.  Its great that we are able to keep an eye on their movements but at the same time, we know they have lots of dangers to encounter.  Again, in the news, report of a buzzard found poisoned http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/highlands_and_islands/8166855.stm

    Please encourage family and friends to support our campaign to protect Birds of Prey.  Here is the link to sign our pledge Birds of Prey Pledge.

    Tonight as both our youngsters, settled down for the night, let's hope and pray they stay safe.   With most of the chicks now fledged on Mull, it brings home that these birds have an incredible journey in front of them - leaving the nest is only the beginning.

    Let's hope Mara and Breagha stay safe.

    I apologise for the quality of this photo but someone asked for a picture of Heather - this was taken last Friday in the rain from a long way away but at least gives you a glimpse of our beautiful bird!

    Photo by Debby Thorne - Heather, our female chick

     

    Debby Thorne, White Tailed Sea Eagle Information Officer, Isle of Mull

  • "Look Mum - I can fly!"

    Sorry for the delay in news but as you may have read we have now moved over to a new blog software!  Still finding my way round it so hope this works!!  I am holding the fort for a few days while Dave has a well earned rest.

    The one piece of news I wanted to share with you is the naming of our chicks.  This year Ulva Primary School chose the names and the names chosen are Heather for our female and Bracken for our male.  They are really fitting names as at this time of the year, the Island is covered in heather and bracken and indeed, Heather, our female chick spent this morning sat amidst a clump of bracken - very ironic.

     

    It has been quite a week here on Mull!  We have been seeing Heather, our chick, quite frequently sitting down at the lochside with either Frisa or Skye in close attendance.  On Tuesday afternoon, we had been watching her hop, skip and jumping around when all of a sudden she was flying - albeit quite low, but she flew from the lochside into the field in front of the hide.  We had lovely views and I have to say (not that I'm biased) but she is simply stunning - a lovely rich chocolate colour.  She then decided to fly back from where she came - relishing in this new past time called "flying".

     

    Wednesday saw her again sitting down by the lochside.  The afternoon group had left having seen Frisa flying over the loch and being attentive to her chick.  I had tidied up the hide, done the paperwork and wondered down to the forward hide to lock up when I spotted a large bird flying above the trees.  "It must be Skye or Frisa returning home" I thought.  But I had to do a double take, as the bird I was looking at didn't have the usual pale head - this bird was chocolate brown all over - I quickly checked the lochside where she had been sitting and nothing!  It was our Heather flying high above the trees.  She looked a little wobbly but she started calling with excitement - a noise I have never heard before but it was obvious it was sheer excitement that she could really fly.  It wasn't long before Frisa appeared and joined the flying display.  I have to confess that at this point I had tears streaming down my cheeks - it was a magical moment to see her flying high with her new found wings - it was a beautiful evening and ideal flying conditions - as if to anticipate her next move, Frisa then landed on one of her favourite branches, remained for about a minute and then flew up - Heather then landed on the same branch albeit a bit clumsy but it was as if Frisa was showing her how to land. She stayed there for a short while but it wasnt long before she was up again soaring and screaming with delight.  She kept looking at Frisa as if to say "look mum, I'm flying".  It was very touching. Of course, this was the evening I said I wouldnt be late home but how could I leave?  It was a truly memorable moment  - Heather is officially airborne!

    Please bear with us as we familiarise ourselves with the new software - I hope you will continue to read and join in our blogs.

     

    Debby Thorne - White Tailed Eagle Information Officer, Mull