May, 2010

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
  • Reasons to be cheerful .....

    (what a great song that was from Ian Dury!)

    I know over recent weeks, its been hard to be really cheerful with the failure of the nest at Loch Frisa but we do have lots of things to be really cheerful about.

    Our most exciting news is that one of the eggs on our buzzard nest has hatched!  Our female buzzard has been incubating two eggs for just over a month - there is a camera on the nest with pictures beamed back into the hide.  The first egg was due to hatch over the weekend and I couldnt get to the hide quick enough on Monday morning to turn on the camera and see if we had a chick.  And there it was!  A small ball of fluff, hardly able to hold its head up - and there was the proud mum, feeding the tiniest morsels with such tenderness and gentleness - I felt truly humbled to be watching this touching scene.  And here it is - the first public viewing of our buzzard chick - I have taken a capture from our monitor so apologies for the quality but thought you would like a glimpse!

     Buzzard Chick - photo Debby Thorne

     

     

     

     

     You can see the 2nd egg next to the chick - fingers crossed for hatching in the next day or two!

     

     

     

     

     Here is a screen capture of Mum feeding the tiniest morsels to her new arrival!

    Female buzzard feeding chick

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    On Tuesday we also spotted our first chicks out on the Loch - our female mallard set out across the Loch followed by her newly hatched brood of 10 chicks.  We are pretty sure the sand martins have or are pretty close to hatching.  We now have a camera set up alongside the quarry with close of views of the sand martin burrows so we can watch their comings and goings from the hide.  This morning we were treated to a male hen harrier hunting across the far side of the loch - the first view of a harrier for several of our visitors.

    What about Skye and Frisa I hear you ask?  Well not to be outdone, they have provided some pretty spectacular displays this week.  For a couple of days they had returned to a favourite knoll where they have great views of the glen - sat side by side enjoying the wonderful warm sunny weather we are enjoying at present (long may it last!).  Unfortunately the lapwings were not too impressed with their choice of perch and certainly gave them a serious telling off - probably too close to their nest.  Both Skye and Frisa then took off and did a wonderful flying display, across the fields and over the loch.  Frisa still feels the need to spend some time on the nest - so strong is her instinct to carry on incubating the egg that must still be in the bottom of the nest - but these spells are getting shorter and shorter, mainly overnight.  The pair of them are back together again and looking splendid in the sunshine. 

    Of course the siskins are still here -  as feisty as ever and a real hit with our visitors. 

    Siskin - photo Debby Thorne

     

     

     

    Siskin - Loch Frisa, photo Debby Thorne

     

     

    We also have a camera in an owl nesting box - the barn owl is a regular visitor and we have everything crossed he will take up residence in this newly installed nest box. 

    The weather has been truly wonderful - bright sunny days with beautiful blue skies - we really do have lots of reasons to be cheerful.  So you can see, there is a great deal going on at Loch Frisa - do come and see us - we have lots to show you!  Full details of Mull Eagle Watch.

     

    Debby Thorne

    White Tailed Eagle Information Officer

     

     

  • They think it's all over...

    It is now. 

    Frisa and Skye have spent more time off than on the nest this week. They still managed to clock up 73 days. Or was it 74? To be honest we have struggled to keep up with them. One minute they're both sitting together on the distant hillside. You look away to talk to a visitor to the Eagle Hide, then you look back and there's only one bird left!  Where did Frisa go? Did she just fly off or did she sneak back onto the nest? We give it an hour or so and then make a quick check and sure enough, there she is, back, low down on that very hard boiled egg.

    A few minutes later, we look back at Skye who hasn't moved and there she is once more at his side. What torment must be going on in her hard-wired brain? The need to be with her egg; the need to be with her mate. Torn in all directions. But, hour by hour, day by day, the distance from the nest is growing. We all watched them on Thursday back on their favourite ridge. We had a big group to the Hide and I think we all felt 'the moment'. Skye was perched on a fence post when in flew Frisa to join him on an adjoining stob. Don't ever let anyone tell you eagles don't sit on fence posts. They do here.

    As she alighted, both began the loud, echoing calls to each other which we all knew signalled the end for their nesting attempt this year. As they sadly serenaded each other, a hooded crow and then a lapwing almost knocked them off their perches. Laugh or cry, we actually felt relief that we, and they, could all at last move on. And what a show for our visitors who went away pleased to have witnessed a special moment. Frisa and Skye rarely fail to disappoint, come rain or shine in their lives.

    This week we also had two busloads of B&B landladies from Oban and Argyll visit the Eagle Hide courtesy of Calmac and Holiday Mull and Iona. It was a whirlwind stop on their way to or from a tour at the Tobermory Distillery and lunch at the Western Isles Hotel. So they were all in a very good and jolly mood! And they will hopefully go back home and recommend us to their guests this summer. We may not have an eagle's nest to show them this year but we will have two stunning white-tailed eagles who will hopefully be perched nearby for much of the time. Our brilliant buzzards are due to hatch any second now and with the back drop of Loch Frisa, the mountains and moorland and plenty of other wildlife, it's a fabulous place to spend a couple of hours. We look forward to seeing you at Mull Eagle Watch

    Call 01680 812 556 to book a trip, Monday to Friday at 10am and 1pm.

    Dave Sexton RSPB Scotland Mull Officer

  • And I'm still waiting ....

    Well the latest news from Loch Frisa is that our eagles arent ready to give up their nest just yet!  Its actually 67 days today they have been sat on that nest - Everyday I drive up the track to check on them, half expecting to see an empty nest.  It nearly happened mid week. 

    On Wednesday, Dave and I travelled to Iona to lead a Corncrake Walk.  It has been Wild Isles week on Mull with a whole variety of events taking place showcasing our wonderful wildlife.  We spent the day on Iona and were joined by a large group of people, keen to try and spot the elusive corncrake.  The day was beautiful and Iona sparkled - turquoise sea and white sand.  Well it was a huge tick for me - I have heard many corncrakes but never seen one but I happened to be standing in the right place at the right time - I was so excited at seeing my first corncrake I couldnt get the words out to say "there's one!"  Fortunately someone standing close by was able to say it for me and some of the other visitors managed to catch a glimpse before it disappeared into a bed of irises.  It was a great way to spend an afternoon and as we watched for the corncrakes to appear we were rewarded with sightings of twite, wheatear, snipe, shelduck, little auks and rock doves.   Halfway through the walk, I received a call saying that both adults were off the nest at Loch Frisa and that they have finally given up. 

    Later that evening I drove up just to see for myself and sure enough, Frisa was sat on her favourite lochside tree and there was an empty nest.  I went home with a heavy heart and a tear or two - the end had finally come.  The next day I was back up to the hide for one of our trips, and just had a quick check to see where the birds where - what a surprise to see Frisa sat back on the nest - Skye was sat about 2 trees away keeping a watchful eye.  I didnt know whether to laugh or cry - she looked so comfortable in that nest and it is just part of her natural routine at the moment.  They will abandon the nest soon and of course we will keep you posted.   They are giving us some great displays with Skye trying to catch a fish at the head of the loch just in front of the hide - you certainly didnt need any binoculars to admire his white tail and huge wingspan.

    Our buzzard is still incubating her two eggs - I calculate hatching will occur towards the end of the week - we will keep you posted.  The sand martins are now incubating too - our great spotted woodpecker has been delighting our visitors this week, enjoying the peanut feeder at the hide - the siskins are still around too as well as our redpoll, reed bunting and of course the warblers.

    Dont forget to come and visit us - the meeting point will remain at the south end of Loch Frisa (Salen/Aros end).  To book a trip call our friends at Craignure Visitor Centre on 01680 812556 Mull Eagle Watch

    Debby Thorne

    White Tailed Eagle Information Officer, Mull