April, 2011

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
  • Let me entertain you!

    Well our visitors to Loch Frisa have certainly had plenty to entertain them over the last few days.

    A bout of high pressure has brought us sunshine and blue skies - a great relief after the constant rainfall last week.  It seems as though everything has gone into overdrive.

    Suddenly we are inundated with warblers, peacock butterflies, and bees.  We have been hearing the cuckoo for about a month and one is regularly seen near the hide.  Birds are now paired up and there is a last minute flurry of nest building. 

    The ravens that nest on the crag near the hide have now started taking food into their nest so looks like a hatching for them.  The pied wagtails have been busy with nest material and today we had a great view of a pair of common sandpipers displaying over the loch.

     

    We have had some great eagle activity too.  Recently, we were watching Skye who was on nest duty while Frisa had been away possibly hunting.  She had been away for sometime and then suddenly,  I saw a dot in the sky way off.  I kept my eyes on it as it grew larger and larger and then there was no doubt, a white tailed eagle heading towards the nest.  I told everyone to keep their eyes on the nest as she would come down and we would see a changeover.  But Frisa had other ideas - she circled over the nest a couple of times then decided to fly across the loch, back over the nest, then obviously found a thermal and started going higher and higher.  Then another white tailed eagle drifted across towards Frisa - "watch out" I said, "we may get some interaction here" - again Frisa had other ideas.  She and the other eagle just circled - there was no calling, no interaction.  Could it have been Heather, their chick from 2009?  There was certainly no reaction from Skye on the nest either.

    As we watched the youngster drift off, someone said "are those 3 birds buzzards?" - and over the crag we had 3 large raptors, just cruising along the line of the hillside - but these weren't buzzards - they were golden eagles!  An amazing view of  2 adults and a youngster, still with its white patches on the underside of the wings.  And just to give us something to compare, the buzzard decided to come out so we had great views in the sky of a white tailed eagle, golden eagle and a buzzard - it was great being able to point out the differences between all 3 birds pointing out the profile, how they fly and of course the difference in size.  Frisa then dropped her legs "she's coming in" I said - but to tease us even more, she didnt land on the nest, but on a branch just above.  Poor Skye must have wondered what she was up to.  She then decided to get back to the serious business of incubation and hopped down on the nest to a much relieved Skye.  Frisa settled down, while Skye flew to a nearby tree to carry out some very important preening.

     

    One guy on the trip said to me "I've been watching birds since I was 7, I've seen an osprey take a fish but that was just absolutely incredible".  We were certainly all left breathless after that display.

    Today, as I drove up to collect our group for the afternoon trip, I was lucky enough to see a male hen harrier doing an amazing sky dancing - flying straight up and then tumbling down - a female was close by so fingers crossed this pair will be successful.

     

    As you can tell, there is never a dull moment at Loch Frisa.  If you coming on a trip this year, dont forget the meeting point is now at the north end of Loch Frisa on the Tobermory to Dervaig road.  To book a trip call the Visitor Information Centre at Craignure on 01680 812556.  More details at Mull Eagle Watch

     

    And finally, Kellan seen feeding on a carcase that he had found himself and flying like a good 'un!

    Debby Thorne

    White Tailed Eagle Information Officer, Mull

  • Senses Overload!

    Its amazing how we drag ourselves through winter with the long dark nights and then all of a sudden, its Spring! 

     

    Skye and Frisa are now well and truly into the routine of incubation.  Frisa tends to do the night shift on the nest, with Skye taking over for a couple of hours first thing in the morning while she has a preen.  They then take it in turns throughout the day though if its wet, the bird on the nest will stay put rather than risk getting those precious eggs wet and cold.   As you can imagine we are chewing our fingernails down to the quick hoping all goes well this year.  They have certainly been putting on some spectacular flying displays for our visitors, sometimes just soaring above the nest but also doing some stunning fly overs!  Don' t forget if you are coming to Loch Frisa this year, the meeting point has changed - this has moved to the north end of of Frisa on the Tobermory to Dervaig Road.  You can book a trip by calling the Craignure Visitor Centre on 01680 812556.  More details on the trips can be found here [DWN]  You can now also follow Skye and Frisa on Twitter with regular updates - their Twitter address is @skyeandfrisa

     

    Today, at our new meeting point at the north end of Loch Frisa, we were treated to the beautiful song of a willow warbler and just caught sight of it darting about in the bushes.  Then as we headed down the track, a beautiful male hen harrier was spotted quartering the moorland on the far side of the loch.  Added to that, butterflies and bees seem to be in abundance all at once.  Of course our feeders are  full of chaffinches and siskins with the occasional visit of a couple of redpoll.  Above the hide, our ravens are still incubating their eggs too - it will not be long before we hear the screech from the chicks when Mum and Dad return to the nest with food - certainly noisy neighbours indeed for us at the hide.

     

    No two days are ever the same at Loch Frisa - whether its the weather with one day glorious sunshine to the next rain and mist or the wildlife - today we had Skye being mobbed by a peregrine who in turn was being chased off by 3 buzzards. 

     

    Its just amazing that at this time of year, everything is so active, so colourful and abundant. 

     

    Siskins - Photo Debby Thorne

     

     

     

    Siskins at Loch Frisa - photo Debby Thorne

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Just to add that today Dave saw Kellan who had managed to find a deer carcase he had managed to find himself - what a result!  A real fighter for sure!

     

    Debby Thorne

    White Tailed Eagle Information Officer, Mull