We shall not, we shall not be moved .....

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

We shall not, we shall not be moved .....

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That title relates to our Half Pint and his/her sibling!  We had a beautiful afternoon on Mull today - lovely blue skies, sunshine, bit of a breeze - perfect fledging weather I thought!  As I made my way to get a good view of the nest, I was half expecting to just see one dark brown chick sat on the edge of the nest - but oh no - two beautiful sea eagle chicks, sat in the sunshine, looking as chilled as they could be.  They looked far too comfortable to consider fledging.  As I was admiring the chicks, I received a text message from Dave "Think of me going to a birthday disco for 7 yr olds" (What a picture that conjures up!) - I did chuckle as I sent one back saying "think of me watching eagles all afternoon in the sunshine" - I think he is missing the birds!  Well those two look like they are going to have to be evicted - hopefully Mum and Dad will start bringing back food but not delivering it direct to the nest, but trying to encourage them out.  They will be 13 weeks old this week so are ready and able.  I will pop down later in the week to check progress - watch this space!

Earlier this morning, I had to pop up to Loch Frisa to take some stuff up to the Hide - it was drizzly first thing so didnt expect to see any of the Frisa family - I stopped along the track to the Hide above the Loch where you get an all round view of the Glen - I glanced along the usual spots and was surprised to catch the outline of one of our birds.  I ran (not something I do very often) back to the van to grab the scope, by the time I had it set up, the bird was up and flying - that familiar huge wingspan, dark chocolate brown - it was Heather! Fantastic - she did a great flying display before disappearing out of sight.  I went down to the Hide and had a fright when I saw someone sat on our eagle bench.  The Hide is now open Monday to Fridays so I wasnt expecting to see anyone.  It was a gentleman who had been on our trip Friday afternoon but sadly the weather was awful and the birds were hiding.  He had walked down the track (2 miles) in the rain to see if he could catch sight of one of these birds.  "I dont believe they exist" he said jokingly.  I told him I had just seen our chick flying but he had been looking in completely the wrong direction.  I grabbed a scope from the hide and within 2 minutes, Frisa came flying across the Loch.  Luckily the gentleman was looking in the right direction this time!  She did a lovely fly round then landed in one of her favourite roosts.  A couple of minutes later, in came Heather, following the same flight path - Frisa took off and Heather landed on the same branch she had been sitting.  It was as if Frisa was showing Heather a good branch to land on!  Needless to say, the gentleman was over the moon as he returns home tomorrow!  If it was possible to hug those birds - I would.  To see the joy on his face (and mine too for that matter) was priceless.

After checking Half Pint this afternoon, I went on a drive round the Island, checking some of the other birds and had a beautiful encounter with an adult Golden Eagle and a juvenile.  As I stood there watching them soaring in a blue sky, I thought of Alma - how she must have enjoyed similar flights but sadly now, no more.  Such a senseless waste of a truly majestic and beautiful bird.  Can I take this opportunity to say thank you to you all in your efforts to stamp out poisoning - from signing the pledge to writing to MP's - let's hope Alma hasnt died in vain.

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

  • Bit late but bingo full house so to speak,brilliant

  • Best blog so far Mex sure everyone who likes wild life agrees.Sweep says very sensible person,I am sure you will decipher that but please keep that to yourself but just because I think it is a really good  comment please don't think any clique or triumvirate around.Getting out of my depth with triumvirate but something like that anyway,sure you know what I mean.  

  • Neil NI - fantastic news for Ireland about both chicks making it! Let's hope the now-Irish sea eagle returns from its holidays! It was wonderful to track its itinerary and to see it had crossed to Isbister on South Ronaldsay, the prehistoric Tomb of the (Sea) Eagles. Let's hope it stays away from the estate in Sutherland where the buzzard was poisoned a week or two ago. Shocking though, concerning the Golden Eagle in Eire poisoned with Paraquat, that the Golden Eagle Trust has had to "ask all landowners, in the vicinity of the poisoned eagle and the newly established pair not to leave out poisoned meat this winter/spring...  and please, please consider alternative methods of controlling foxes and crows. If one uses poison legally you are obliged to erect poisoning notices, inform the Gardai in writing..." etc. How shocking is it, that it is legal in this day and age to poison wildife as long as you put up notices (that eagles etc can't read)?

  • Sooty - you could say that but young eagles seem to get around a bit more. Obviously not all have left Ireland and those that have may return just like Breagha returns to Mull after her adventures. Scottish raptors frequently visit Ireland too and maybe now that we have small populations established some might hang around.

  • Went up to check on Half Pint and Sibling - bit like looking for a needle in a haystack - took my daughter with me as an extra pair of eyes (and younger ones too!) as we got out of the van, we felt spots - the sky was black but we decided to keep going!  oh dear - the heavens absolutely opened - two drowned rats doesnt even begin to describe how wet we were!  I had Dave's scope with me too - just hope it recovers before he returns!  Needless to say, we saw nothing except three inquisitive seals.  Just to rub salt into the wound, as we got home, the sun came out.  Will have another go later in the week when the weather is due to improve.  Off on a Seawatch walk tomorrow - hope we have some good weather for bird and mammal spotting!

  • Neil NI would be great for Irish people if both types of Eagle were established but I find the losses there to poisoning really sad,we had a great holiday there,Farmhouse B and B and the Irish people really kind to us.Find it hard to imagine them killing Eagles but suppose same as other places a small number do a lot of damage.Feel sure the Irish people would thrill to see these birds well established but seems to defeat the object a bit doesn't it if they come back to Scotland?

  • Here's a link to some good news on the Golden Eagle front if anyone is interested in the Irish Project. So far despite it being relatively early in the Golden Eagle and White Tailed Eagle reintroductions Scotland has been benefiting from long term visits from both types of eagle released in Ireland.

    www.goldeneagle.ie/news_viewnews.php

    And Heatherp - just for you check out this link that proves an Irish White Tailed eagle has been to Orkney for 3 days this year! If you click through it is pretty detailed with dates, times, locations, maps etc. Just scroll down to end of May.

    www.goldeneagle.ie/portal.php

  • Please, everyone, excuse another long posting re Alma and poisonings. I rang The Crown Office for the email details of the Procurator Fiscal. The Office is headed by the Lord Advocate, in whose name all prosecutions are carried out. It employs Procurators Fiscal as public prosecutors per region. For the local Angus/Tayside email address, you have to ring the office at Dundee  0844 561 2870 (or 01382 342559). The man I spoke to at The Crown Office was very supportive, having seen about Alma on TV (!) and having himself encountered memorably a sea eagle at close quarters. At first he wondered if we realised the serious problem that we face – that of changing Scottish law regarding legal penalties. He thought about it and then felt that public expression of concern might be a way, if no the only way, that the laws would be changed. He feels the TV publicity will be very helpful in this. He says it is the politicians who can get the law changed - and may be more inclined to do so under public pressure.

    He advocated that we write in the first instance to MSPs (eg Roseanna Cunningham, details already given) and also to the local MP, Mike Weir, at

    The House of Commons,

    London

    SW1A 0AA

    Email: weirm@parliament.uk

    He said it would also be helpful to post correspondence about changing the law to

    The Crown Office / Procurators Fiscal

    25 Chambers Street,

    Edinburgh EH1 1LA.

    Whilst the Holyrood Minister, Roseanna Cunningham, has expressed her outrage, it is said to be important that she be reminded of public concerns (see address given previously).

         The estate in question over Alma and other poisonings is named openly now throughout the media and internet as Millden Estate, near Brechin (Angus). It boasts a 20,000-acre grouse moor, red deer stalking and salmon fishing. Its owner, a multimillionaire investment banker, bought the estate in 2004 (R. H. – his full name no doubt is sub judice, but it is available online if you look for it).

         The strategy to address the problems of raptor persecution is being directed through the Partnership for Action on Wildlife Crime - (PAW Scotland) but environmental groups find themselves overwhelmed in a partnership with shooting and ‘countryside’ interests.

         I found numbers of raptor poisonings in Scotland since 1998 listed online, though Debby/Dave may know of more?  Golden Eagles 16, sea eagles 4, Red Kite 54, buzzards 202, Peregrine Falcons 15 (no mention of hen harriers -  probably too few of them around for poisonings to be noticed anyway?!). SO DO WRITE TO THE POLITICIANS AND TRY TO GET THE LAW CHANGED. We owe it to Alma, White G and all those other beautiful birds. No negativity or cynicism, please, folks. There IS hope!

  • Orkney had a sea eagle last year again, didn't it? It was mentioned in earlier blogs. I don't know about this year - ? It looks as if Breagha decided against the crossing, anyway.

  • Thanks for another very descriptive blog Debby.  I am so envious of you.  glad to hear Heather is doing well and also Half Pint.  What joy it must bring to you after all the worried about him.  I can well imagine that gentleman was over the moon to see the eagles.  Good to hear that Breagha is really strething his wings now but do take care little one.

  • That is some Highland Tour Debby !.

  • Well done eagle chicks!!

    I can't believe how far Breagha has flown, i wonder if a WTSE will ever make it to Orkney? Although don't think the right terrain for them, too flat! Wonder where she'll(is it a she, sorry) go next. My Aunt and Uncle live up By Lairg , on a fish farm wonder if Breagha will stop off for some lunch there.

  • Lovely blog Debby as always, how rewarding it must be to see someone like the gentleman you mention going home happy having seen those wonderful birds.

    I missed the One Show but I am going to watch on iplayer.

    Look forward to your further news of little half pint and sibling, hope they stay safe.

    Breagha....wow well done.

  • Wow!  Breagha is up in Caithness - the Google map has been updated if you want to follow Breagha and Mara's journey

    www.rspb.org.uk/.../mulleagles

  • PS Just as an aside: it may amuse you that Simon Barnes didn't like it much when they closed the roof on Centre Court at Wimbledon this year, because it stopped him bird-watching! (He will have to take up reporting on badminton, won't he??). I do hope that someone will brief him about Alma. You know her name means 'Nourishing' or 'kindly.' Let us do whatever we can to nourish her memory, eh?