April, 2016


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
  • Please can we have our Spring back!

    What a difference a week makes!  Last week I was wearing short sleeves and this week I have so many layers on I look like I could be auditioning for the Michelin Man (some of you may remember him!).  Lovely blue skies and warm sunshine last week, have been replaced by a cold wind coming straight from the North Pole - thankfully it is still dry but it is positively Baltic.

    Its been a busy week at Tiroran, Fingal and Iona  still taking turns to incubate their eggs - we are now on countdown and will be pacing the floor shortly.  In the meantime we have had plenty of visitors and I dont mean 2 legged ones!  We have had some great views of young golden eagles and quite often the off duty white tailed eagle will fly up and make sure they dont hang around in their territory.  This gives our visitors a great opportunity to compare both eagles.  Incredibly, on one occasion, one of the young golden eagles landed on a branch next to the nest - Fingal was on duty at the time  and he was not happy! Lots of calling until the goldie got the message he wasnt welcome and took off.   We then had a sub adult male white tailed eagle visit - this is an eagle about 4 years of age, who is looking for a mate and a territory.  Usually, we would expect our resident eagles to chase a sub adult out - white tailed eagles mate for life so wouldnt want an intruder around to cause any distractions.  I think my jaw hit the floor when I saw Iona, the female, fly up with the sub adult and enjoy a fly around with him - she was certainly not chasing him off and seemed to enjoy the attention!  Fingal take note!  The last we saw was Iona disappearing over the trees with the sub adult in tow.  I really wasnt sure what to expect when I went back the next day, but thankfully she was back on the nest with Fingal close by - phew!  

    We have had a juvenile white tailed eagle hanging around since we opened - from the colouring, very dark chocolate brown, looks like one from last year but we dont know where it originates - but it is often seen sitting in the region of the nest.  Most of the time, it is tolerated by both the adults but on one occasion, Fingal took exception.  He came off the nest, talons raised up and pushed the youngster off his branch - to show he wasnt put off, the youngster flew and landed immediately above the nest and stayed there.  Fingal had to get back on the nest but sat there shouting at the youngster who took absoloutely no notice.  

    As well as great views of our big birds, we are also treated to great views of our smaller ones too including siskins and many many chaffinches and the local woodpecker!  So come along and join us.  We have 2 sites this year on Community Forestry - [West Ardhu] and [Tiroran].  to book a trip, call the VisitScotland Office on 01680 812556.  Steph and look forward to welcoming you.  You can catch up with the events at West Ardu here West Ardhu blog 

    With thanks to our hosts at South West Mull & Iona Development Trust adn North West Mull Community Woodland

    Debby Thorne

    RSPB Ranger, Isle of Mull

    Greater Spotted Woodpecker

  • And another one!

    As mentioned before, this year Mull Eagle Watch is located at 2 sites on Community Woodland, North West Mull Community Woodland and South West Mull & Iona Development Trust  The eagles at both sites are well into incubation and we are now onto countdown to the day when we await hatching.  

    At Tiroran, Fingal and Hope continue to give our visitors great views but this week they haven't been the centre of attention.  The weather on Mull has been wonderful with blue skies and warm sunshine.  We have great views towards Ben More and the surrounding area and this week we were scanning the skyline, when 3 large shapes appeared above a distant crag - we could see they were golden eagles and as they drifted towards us, we could make out they were young golden eagles, identified by the white patches.  As we watched them interacting with each other, more large birds drifted into view - this time a slightly different shape - a much broader, heavier looking wing with a more rounded tail - yes - white tailed eagles.  As we focussed, we saw not 1, not 2, not 3 but 4 juveniles.  And just to help us with our ID skills, a couple of buzzards joined in.  Then we saw another bird, a different wing shape to the eagles, smaller - one of our visitors was convinced it was a goshawk - and just to add to the party in the sky, a sparrowhawk came through.  We were all stood them in amazement - all you could hear was "there's another one - oh and another".  Our visitors certainly went home happy.

    But that wasnt the end of it - today I was at our second site at West Ardu - home to Hope and Star white tailed eagles.  One of our visitors was celebrating his 83rd birthday so the best birthday present he could hope for was a view of a white tailed eagle as he had never seen one.   As we arrived at our viewing point, we were greeted by the male, called Star (named by the pupils from Dervaig Primary School) sat close to the nest, basking in the warmth of the sunshine.  As we scanned the skyline, one of our visitors spotted that familiar site on the skyline - 2 large birds that turned out to be golden eagles - we were then treated to a fly through by 3 white tailed eagles.  The goldies stayed around and again great for us to be able to compare the profile of both eagles.

    Not a bad day at the office.

    To book on a trip, called our friends at VisitScotland Craignure on 01680 812556

    Debby Thorne

    RSPB Ranger

  • And We're Off!

    Well that's our first week and Mull Eagle Watch is up and running.  It has been a great first week and a real pleasure to show our visitors these magnificent birds as well as telling their story.

    It is exciting to be running 2 sites on Mull's community woodland -  one at North West Mull Community Woodland and one at South West Mull & Iona Development Trust.  Our bird feeders are up and it took 10 minutes for the chaffinches and siskins to find them! Fantastic close views of our small garden birds.

    .  Siskin

    At Tiroran, we have the wonderful background of Ben More, our only Munro on Mull - a shower came through and left a lovely dusting of snow - but happy to report by the end of the day, it had all melted with the warmth of the sun.

    Fingal and Iona, our white tailed eagles at Tiroran continue with the important task of incubation.  Iona, our female, does the majority of incubation but Fingal will take over when she needs to feed or just fancies a stretch of that huge wingspan.  Fingal has been kept busy this week keeping a buzzard from getting too close to the nest.  For such big birds, the eagles can be incredibly agile when they need.

    Hope and Star are also busy with incubation duties - I spent a day there last week and was greeted by a male and female buzzard sat in a tree close to our meeting point - hopefully they will be on nest duties soon.  We also have lots of pied wagtails on site and swallows and willow warblers have been spotted too - surely it is Spring now!!

    We have had some great golden eagle action too with 3 in the air at one point  - it was great to be able to compare the outline and size between golden eagles and the white tailed eagles.

    If you want to join us on a trip, dont forget to book through our friends at VisitScotland Craingure by ringing 01680 812556 - Steph and I look forward to meeting you.  More details can be found at Mull Eagle Watch

    Debby Thorne

    Community Information & Tourism Officer

    Isle of Mull