The snowdrops and crocuses are out and bring some welcome colour to the garden at this time of the year. The daffodils aren't far behind and for the last week, a robin has been singing his little heart out as I refill the bird feeders. Is Spring just around the corner? There are days when it certainly feels like it. I had a trip to the hide at the end of last week and it was a lovely sunny day - in fact we stayed outside the hide just to enjoy the warmth from the sunshine - and also to get some great views of Skye and Frisa.
This is a really busy time for all adult eagles on Mull as pairs set about re-bonding and provide some lovely aerial displays as well as the important task of preparing the nursery! As the group watched Skye and Frisa sat side by side, calling to each other, we were treated to a great view of a fly past from Skye as he came in to land in a nearby tree and promptly snapped off a branch - he then took off and disappeared out of view!
This is also the time when territorial boundaries are sorted too - I was treated to a great example of this last week. I was sat watching Skye and Frisa - they were both sat together soaking up some warm sunshine when they both looked up to something in the sky. I craned my neck to see what they were looking at and couldnt believe there were 3 golden eagles drifting towards them. I could see 2 were adults and the third was a youngster, identified by the 2 white patches on the underside of the wing and a white rump. The youngster eventually drifted away from its parents.
Young golden eagle - photo Debby Thorne
Then Skye and Frisa took off from the tree and flew skywards. Through my binoculars I just kept switching from the pair of goldies to Skye and Frisa just wondering what was going to happen next. Both pairs of eagles were just sitting on the wind almost stationary - just like a standoff - who was going to make the first move. And then, Skye flew towards the male goldie (in case you are wondering how I knew it was the male goldie, apart from the size difference,the female is larger than the male, the female goldie is missing some of her primary feathers so makes it easy to identify her!) - I held my breath, half not wanting to look but knew I had to. They circled each other and then in an instant both eagles threw their talons up to each other - you so often see this with young sea eagles playing at fighting but this wasnt playing. They circled and seemed to duck and dive and briefly I couldnt tell which eagle was which. As quickly as it started, it ended. Both males just drifted away from each other - maybe they had come to a gentleman's agreement "you go one way and I'll go the other". Skye rejoined Frisa who had watched the whole thing and the male goldie drifted back to his mate until both goldies disappeared over the trees and out of view. Skye and Frisa continued to circle over the Loch and eventually landed in one of their favourite trees where they proceeded to mate. Just a routine day on Eagle Island! This all happened in what seemed like a few minutes but was probably about half an hour.
I know not a good shot but you can see the male goldie on the left as Skye heads towards it - photo Debby Thorne
At one point Skye was completely upside down!
Skye on the left and Frisa on the right- notice the size difference - photo Debby Thorne
Everything was back to normal - for the time being! No two days are ever the same at Frisa - you just dont know what you are going to see. The siskins are back on the feeders and we are regularly seeing crossbills. The buzzards are out on the hill next to the hide doing some spectacular displays and as for the ravens, well they really are the acrobats of the skies.
Dont forget, the hide is open for trips - full details of Mull Eagle Watch here - Loch Frisa is looking stunning as ever!
Loch Frisa looking southwards - photo Debby Thorne
And finally, an update on Kellan - Dave saw him this afternoon quite a distant away and to quote his words "flying like a pro". The young eagle is doing good and we shall keep everything crossed for him.
White Tailed Eagle Information Officer, Mull