I am only just getting round to posting the first blog post of the season after a host of technical issues and general eagle busyness with our pair, Fingal and Iona. 2017 tours are well underway already!
After working for the RSPB as a fundraiser for six months in Cumbria, I am delighted to announce that I am the RSPB Community Information and Tourism Officer for Mull Eagle Watch this season. I’m leading the guided trips of the white-tailed eagle nest in Glen Seilisdeir (Tiroran Community Forest) for the next six months and I’m loving it already.
Over at the West Ardhu hide (North West Mull Community Woodland Co. Ltd.), Rachel French has returned to the eagle ranger post with the Mull and Iona Community Trust and the Mull and Iona Ranger Service for her third year. She’s showing visitors our eagle pair, Hope and Star, and you can keep up with them too – here’s a link to Rachel’s blog https://mulleaglewatch.com/blog/
During the trips, you’ll learn all about white-tailed eagles including their extinction and reintroduction in the UK, the eagle pairs we watch and the community forests which host our eagle families. You will also get to see eagles on the nests and hopefully, the unforgettable sight of an eagle soaring majestically around the forests!
Fingal and Iona – Tiroran
At 20 and 19 years old, Fingal and Iona are still going strong. Mull Eagle Watch has been observing the pair since 2011 and, since 2003, they’ve successfully fledged 12 chicks. They are now, thankfully, incubating between 1-3 eggs – the pair had us on tenterhooks when they missed their usual laying date of 26th March by about five days!
Despite the wind, the rain and even the blizzards that our visitors and the eagles have endured over the past few weeks, we have had some fantastic eagle action already. During one tour, visitors were treated to the sight of two golden eagles circling above us alongside two white-tailed eagles accompanied by the yelping alarm call of a distressed, incubating Iona from the nest. We’ve all had great close-up views of an adult bird on the nest or ‘eyrie’ keeping those eggs warm thanks to the generous loan of a pair of scopes from Swarovski Optik and Viking Optical .
Scopes set up on the white-tailed eagle nest at the Tiroran Forest hide
I’ve enjoyed meeting some fantastic visitors too. A knowledgeable young man named Cian – who kindly assisted me with unfurling this huge white-tailed eagle-sized cut-out – told me a fascinating fact about curlews; that they coat their feathers with an oil to protect them from mud and water. I'm looking forward to learning lots more throughout the season!
Cian and I holding the life-sized eagle cut-out (Image: Elspeth Gotts)
Dont forget - you need to book to join a Ranger-led trip at either Tiroran or West Ardhu - just call the VisitScotland office at Craignure on 01680 812556.
I look forward to meeting many of you and sharing the stories of these amazing birds as the season progresses. Hatch date is predicted to be the 8th May for this pair so watch this space!
Community Information and Tourism Officer
Mull Eagle Watch