Head in the clouds

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Mull Eagle Watch

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

Head in the clouds

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Today at Loch Frisa, as we all prepare ourselves for the inevitable, an eagle's head in the clouds is pretty much all that's been visible. The dreich weather continued to cast a gloomy blanket over the forest and loch. And over the eagle's nest . As the rain fell, the soggy head and beak of Frisa (or was it Skye?) was just about visible above the rim of the nest. Sometimes the head shook, sending a small shower of droplets into the air. Sometimes the incubating bird stood for a minute or two, looked forlornly into the nest cup and shook hard, sending a bigger shower of droplets into the air.

Then there was a wing stretch or a squirt of relief over the side of the nest. And you just knew that bird had been there for far too long. The other was sat in the loch-side tree. No intention of moving. The last changeover was at 11.30am. It was now 5.30pm. And then the cloud descended completely and the nest and the eagles vanished from view. In some ways it was a relief not to watch.

Since Day 1, the team of volunteer eagle watchers from the local community and visitors who have helped out, have kept a daily log. A minute by minute record of Frisa and Skye's behaviour, change-overs and events. While the cloud was down, I re-read it all again to see if there were any clues to explain what was transpiring now. There were none. It had all been a very normal, routine incubation. A week is a long time in Nature. Just last Sunday, we were 'phoning round everyone with the good news of a likely hatch. Today I read a brief entry in the log from one of the watchers this morning which I'll let you see now. It kind of sums it all up.

1045

"This is the saddest watch I've done. All around there are signs of new life and then I look at a magnificent bird sitting resolutely on a failed egg. Does she sense that all the time and effort spent this year will come to nothing? Or does she still hope? Frisa and Skye, you have my sympathy - but more than that - you have my profound respect"

Dave Sexton RSPB Scotland Mull Officer

  • Not commented for ages as I only tend to check-in when I'm at work so don't get much of a chance these days although I always read the updates and fellow bloggers comments for the latest news.

    So sad to hear that Skye and Frisa haven't been so lucky this year :-( they are such devoted parents when they do have offspring.  Like others have said hope that the other eagles on the island are successful.

    Has anymore been heard of Venus and her where abouts?

    Going to Mull next Friday for the Mull and Iona wildlife week.........booked up for a whale watching trip on the saturday, so hopefully there will be plenty to see.  More importantly we've booked up on the Monday to come and visit the hide, visited a few years ago and the weather wasn't very good so I'm hoping it's better this time round, also hope to meet either Debby or Dave on the day :-)

    Until next week, take care watching over our precious eagles and eaglets, see you soon

  • Hello Debby and Dave-I havn't replied to your last two blogs yet as I was hoping for a miracle and wanted to wait uintil you told us both birds were off the nest. Just red your latest and I think it has now sunk in that there will be no chicks this year.

    I am devastated for you both, your team and all the brilliant volunteers that help on the island.

    As others have said you do a fantastic job there and Skye and Frisa are brillant parents, it is so sad for them. I was surprised this has happened but then considered the dreadful weather Scotland has had most of the winter and obviously that has a big part to play in the breeding cycle.

    I hope other pairs on the island are doing better and I know you will tell us as soon as you can how many chickes have been spotted this year.

    Is there any sighting of Heather on the island recently?

    Whilst they were incubating I have been following the adventures of the Estonian eagels and 10 bald eagel nests in America, fatastic webcam pictures and its just amazing to see how fast all the chicks grow. No loses although one laid 4 eggs as the nest was covered with tons of snow and they kept dropping to the bottom of the nest-one egg survived and the chick is enormous now.

    The more stories you follow the more you understand the problems in egg hatching and chick survival.

    I am sure you will still get plenty of vistors this year as Mull is beautiful.

    If my husband gets another job sorted when his finishes in August we will be up to visit you and Loch Garten.

    JILLIAN

  • Hi Dave thanks for latest update and second the welcome to the new names,good of you to give us the updates that cannot be easy when things have gone badly,best wishes from both of us.Hope all of us have happier times next year.

  • I will be there again this summer.

    Maybe this is an opportunity to do something slightly different this year with the visits and hide etc and then hopefully back to normal next year. You guys would know better than me but maybe things like organised walks or more focus on the other wildlife, or a live link up to the 'buzzcam' like Loch Garten does.

  • Hi everyone

    Thank you for all comments, especially from the 'new' names. All much appreciated by us. To answer briefly a few of your questions...

    We've known another failed nest in the past to sit for 60+ days before finally giving up. So for Frisa and Skye at 49 days today, this sad little scene could go on for a while yet. We just don't know. Might all be over tomorrow but for now their long wait continues.

    It's too late now for them to lay a second clutch as they are so far through their breeding cycle this year. I think if they fail very early on, like a few days after laying, they may manage to lay again after a few weeks but unfortunately not now.

    The hide will stay where it is and the show must go on! There will still be excellent chances to see Frisa and Skye who won't go far even when they eventually give up incubation. Plus of course all the supporting cast of immature sea eagles, golden eagles, hen harrier, buzzard (2 eggs now on the fabulous buzzcam), birds on the loch and yes, the famous siskins and redpolls. So please still come and see us this year. We need you to visit more than ever! Call 01680 812 556 to book a trip.

    We'll keep you posted. For now Frisa and Skye's vigil continues.

  • Really sad news, but as commented elsewhere on this blog, hopefully other nests can ease the sorrow felt at Frisa and Skye's loss.

  • Sorry to hear the news about the Mull Eagles. Will that be it for this years breeding or will they try again.

  • Hi everybody seems the Estonia Sea Eagles have a chick or maybe two several bits of video with chirping on the forum,probably put on you tube as well.Not very clear but think someone suggested more plain with head phones on.

  • It's all been said. My heart is wrenched and goes out to you all - birds and human-kind.

  • Dave, Debby and all the volunteers, you too also have our respect for the all work and time you devote to the protection and welfare of the Sea Eagles on Mull.

    Hopefully the esablished and new pairs on Mull will compensate for Frisa and Skye's sad loss.

    Ian

  • I very rarely comment on here but just love to read your updates. I have to write today to express how sad it is to read of the failure of the eggs. I am so sorry Debby and Dave, and all on Mull.    

  • Dave aned Debby such sad news.  Poor Frisa ahd Skye the most devoted parents have not managed this year to have chicks.  It must be awful for you when something like this happens.  Do you think all the bad weather has had something to do with this.  Really feel for you and your team after the successes of the past.  Chin up as I know you will but how do Frisa and Skye cope with their loss I wonder.

  • Reg and I are so sorry to hear this sad report.  Our thoughts are with you all and I think that goes for everyone at Glaslyn that I have told about your eagles.

  • As above - sending you all our support. Small consolation Debby, but I take it the hide wont move and your little birds will still enjoy their snacks?

    Thinking of you all and will be back to see you before you know it.

    Diane & Steven x

  • Hi Dave and Debby yes just a really sad end seems inevitable maybe even the egg or even eggs were never fertile,you give us such great blogs and we almost live things through your stories hope you know all of us bloggers thoughts are with you.Long to hopefully hear better news of other nests.