Sunday evening, sat looking out on a flat, mirror like Sound of Mull with the sound of oystercatchers and curlews as my background music - I'm not sure it gets much better.
At Tiroran Community Forest South West Mull & Iona Development Trust I am lucky to have an office where I can listen to the sounds of goldcrests, buzzards mewing, song thrush singing, siskins creating havoc as the youngsters take over the feeders, all trying to find a perch to call their own. Oh yes, and of course, white tailed eagles calling, including our chick which shouts out to the adults when its hungry. The chick is now just over 11 weeks old and when I left yesterday, had ventured out on to a supporting branch, which holds the nest, and then carrying out some amazing wing exercises - huge wings flapping to build up the muscles, accompanied by some serious hopping that would be right at home in the Hop Skip and Jump event in the forthcoming Olympics in Rio.
We are at the stage now where the adults ease off bringing in food in an attempt to encourage the chick out of the nest. The chick may do a short flight but usually hop down the branches of the tree onto the ground. Fingal and Iona will still bring in food but deliver it a distance away "if you are hungry, come and get it!" - then the fun begins as the chick starts to follow the adults, learning to fly and hunt - sometimes landing on branches that cant support its weight - great fun to watch. So, we are now just waiting for the chick to take that leap of faith and Go!
Here is a short video clip taken on Saturday of the chick flapping those huge wings.
It really is an amazing time of year as the Island seems to be alive with all manner of wildlife. At Tiroran, the golden ringed dragonflies are everywhere along with dark green fritillary butterflies. This week hen harriers have fledged around the Island, and the local kestrels at Tiroran have been keeping us entertained with their flying antics. As I drive along the shores of Loch na Keal, I have watched the Grey lag geese as they began incubation, and now leading their goslings across the grass to the shoreline - just amazing how quickly they grow.
Grey lag goose and goslings
Golden ringed dragonfly
Dont forget - you need to book to join a Ranger led trip either at Tiroran or West Ardhu North West Mull Community Woodland - just call the VisitScotland office at Craignure on 01680 812556.
Keep up with Steph and the eagles at West Ardhu, Star and Hope - here is a link to the blog https://mulleaglewatch.com/2016/07/24/an-eagle-called-hope/
Until next time ......
RSPB Ranger, Isle of Mull
It has been a busy time at Mull Eagle Watch - lots of visitors coming to see the white tailed eagles, here at Tiroran and at our other site, West Ardhu North West Mull Community Woodland Fingal and Iona's chick at Tiroran is not far off fully grown and is now over 8 weeks old. We think it is a male but are waiting on the DNA results to confirm this. In the meantime he is doing some serious wing stretching, building up the muscles needed for the inevitable fledging which can happen between 10 and 12 weeks of age. Fingal and Iona, as ever, are proving to be excellent parents bringing in plenty of food - the chick is old enough now to feed itself. Just yesterday, Fingal flew in with a seabird and the chick grabbed it from him and took it to the rear of the nest where he proceeded to devour it. This gives Fingal and Iona some respite from the task of feeding and we have been having some great views of them sitting side by side, as well as enjoying some of the lovely weather we have had and giving us some spectacular flying displays against the backdrop of Ben More, our Munro on Mull.
As well as our eaglet, there has been plenty of action from other wildlife around the forest. On the feeders, we have enjoyed great views of newly fledged siskins, greenfinch, chaffinch, robin but the highlight for me was when the female great spotted woodpecker which came down to the peanut feeder with her youngster. I was lucky enough to capture a little video clip in between trips.
It seems no matter where you turn, there is something exciting to see; golden ringed dragonflies, dark green fritillary butterflies and behind our viewing area a vole has made its home and is a joy to see.
Come and join us on a trip - you never know what you might see. Booking is essential and can be done through our friends at Craignure Tourist Office on 01680 812556. See what Steph has been up to at West Ardhu blog
Ranger, Isle of Mull