Mull Eagle Watch

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
  • An update on Shelly - the sea eagle rediscovered after 7 years

    14th October 2018

    In 2010, MEW watched as sea eagle pair, Fingal and Iona, raised a chick. The female was named Shelly after Glen Seilisdeir, the valley in which the birds reside on the Isle of Mull.

    Shelly as a chick in 2010 having her leg rings and satellite tag fitted ( Forestry Commission Scotland)

     

    Shelly was fitted with a satellite tag which was designed to track her movements. Disappointingly, after only three years, the tag stopped transmitting on the Isle of Lewis. Luckily though, it was recovered with no eagle attached so it was hoped she was still alive.

    Last year, RSPB Mull Officer, Dave Sexton, received an exciting email from a birder named Iain who had been photographing eagles on a loch up in Sutherland. In one photo, the bird’s leg rings could quite clearly be read as C9 39.

    Heart-racing, knowing that the blue/silver colour combination of the ring was worn by birds hatched in 2010, Dave searched the database of leg rings and found it was her! He had finally found the answer to her disappearance all those years ago. As it turns out, Shelly had been breeding at this location since 2015 and had raised four chicks with her partner who was from Lewis, the Isle where Shelly had lost her tag.

    This Summer, Iain kindly gave us an update on Shelly and her family. She has hatched another two chicks this year and the whole family can be seen in the photo below. Thank you to Iain Paterson for this revelation, the update and the fantastic photos.           

    Sea eagle Shelly (C9 39) as an adult in Sutherland

     


    Shelly's mate (C9 23) from the Isle of Lewis

     


    Male in the nest with the two large chicks (one's head only just visible below male's left wing) and Shelly coming in to land

     

    Meanwhile, Mull's class of 2018 are getting ready to leave thier parents. Where will they end up?

    We are into our last week of tours this season. So for a chance to see Hope, Star and their chicks, book on a tour at West Ardhu on 01680 812556.

    Thanks for reading,

    Meryl

    RSPB Community Information and Tourism Officer

  • Hunting eaglets and a surprise visitor at West Ardhu

    3rd October 2018

    A few weeks ago, we were seeing Hope and Star, our adult white-tailed eagles at West Ardhu forest, bringing food back to the nest trees, only to eat it all themselves in front of the hungry chicks! On one occasion, after calling incessantly for half an hour, the chick that was perched above Hope decided to bend forward and poo on its mother! That shows her.

    This ‘tough love’ seen from the parents was perhaps an attempt to encourage the chicks – now 23 weeks old – to join them on their hunting excursions.

    Eaglet flying

    Eagles flying together

    Indeed, after a week away from the hide, I returned to deathly silence in the nest trees and views of the eagles floating around in the distance.

    Last week, just as I’d been explaining how elusive golden eagles are, we had one pass right over the car park, close enough to see the plumage colour. Thanks to visitor Rob White for the photos.

    Golden eagle at West Ardhu (Rob White)

    Golden eagle (Rob White)

     

    We’ve also been seeing the odd sparrowhawk and lots of buzzards and fiesty young kestrels hovering around the forest, often relentlessly mobbing the local sparrowhawk and even our eagle family! Flocks of goldfinches have moved into the area and ravens are becoming a more common sight, displaying their acrobatic flight as they chase each other overhead.

    Kestrel mobbing a white-tailed eagle

    Kestrel mobbing a white-tailed eagle

    Tours are still running until 18th October but, as ever, views of the eagles are not guaranteed and they are now more often seen flying around the area but do occasionally return to the nest trees for a perch.

    To book on a tour, call the Craignure Visit Scotland iCentre on 01680 812 377

    Thanks for reading,

    Meryl

    RSPB Community Information and Tourism Officer

  • Buzz off!

    2nd September 2018

    We were spolit with eagle action last Thursday at West Ardhu!

    Hope arrived with a measly portion of food but, instead of dropping it in the nest, she perched underneath Misak to eat it herself, despite the incessant calling from the hungry chick.

    Ulva, appeared at the same time but, realising the food wasn’t for sharing, she swiftly moved on and soared up high for our visitors for a while before being mobbed by ravens.

     

    Ulva, one of the chicks, soaring overhead

     

    And there was more mobbing to come! The visitors would have gone home happy then but in the final moments of the tour, Hope flew past us over the nearby hillside. Instead of following her normal route, she strangely decided to stop and perch precariously atop a very spindly tree. She was now sat about 100 metres away from us – something we rarely see them do!

    Almost immediately, she was greeted with hostility by one of the local buzzards who proceeded to mob her as she called out, swooping past her again and again until she finally up and left, with the buzzard in pursuit.

    Here is the series of Cian’s photos to illustrate the story!

    Hope, coming in to land near the group

    The buzzard mobbing Hope

     

    Hope looking up at the buzzard

    Hope has had enough!

    Hope leaves, pursued by the buzzard


    Tours at West Ardhu are still running throughout September. To book on a tour, please call 01680 812 556. Of course these are wild birds so please bear in mind that you may not get as lucky as this!


    Thanks for reading,

    Meryl 

    RSPB Community Information and Tourism Officer