24th September 2017
Mull Eagle Watch tours have come to an end after another successful season in 2017.
Thursday 21st was the last day of tours and, after cancelling on the Wednesday due to a return of miserable weather, I was pleased to be greeted at West Ardhu with sunshine and clear views.
Visitors saw Star swoop in and perch in the nest tree where he proceeded to sit for the rest of the day. It’s easy to think that eagles have easy lives when you see them like this but Star and Hope and indeed Fingal and Iona have all been incredibly busy parents this season, managing to raise three chicks between them despite the gruelling weather that Mother Nature has thrown at them.
The parents are doing all they can to equip their eaglets with the skills they need to survive; only half of all juveniles make it to adulthood at five years of age so we're still crossing our fingers for all three. They should now be catching their own prey but they will remain with their parents throughout most of the winter before beginning their long journeys around Scotland in search of a mate and their own territory for the next few years.
And we finally have names for the West Ardhu chicks! Gael and Storm have been chosen by Dervaig Primary School. So I think its safe to say that, along with the name ‘Arwen’ that was chosen for our Tiroran chick, we have some good strong names for these majestic birds. Thank goodness we dodged Eagley McEagleyface as some visitors suggested!
I’m already back at home in Windermere having left my life on Mull. Today, I went for a walk near Ambleside and enjoyed the familiar views of the surrounding mountains that the Lake District is famous for (along with the lakes) and I couldn’t help but scan the summits, expecting and hoping an eagle to pop up any second. Needless to say, none were seen. But the Lake District was home to the last golden eagle in England until last year and the last pair of English white-tailed eagles resided here too in the 1800’s before their extinction. After the successful reintroduction of the white-tailed eagle to Britain over 40 years ago, we are now seeing the population grow from strength to strength so it’s only a matter of time before they re-colonise England and I’m hoping it will be here, on my doorstep.
Thank you all for supporting the project this year whether you visited one of our two hides or just followed us on our blogs and social media. The money we raised will be donated to the two community forests that hosted us to aid with their conservation and education projects.
I’m already thinking about when I can return to Mull to visit but in the meantime, I’m hoping I’ll receive eagle updates from Dave Sexton who does such a fantastic job of monitoring these eagles on Mull and leading this partnership project.
Here are some of my favourite photos from the season. Enjoy!
Iona and Arwen in theTiroran nest
Four-week old Arwen having her leg rings fitted
Gael and Storm being ringed at 6 weeks old
Hope feeding her eaglets
Visitors to Tiroran Community Forest enjoying overhead views of golden eagles
Gael and Storm in the West Ardhu nest
Sibling rivalry at West Ardhu
Newly-fledged Arwen looking regal on her parents' perch
Saga Pearl II cruise ship visit to West Ardhu
Fingal perched above old nest at Tiroran
Best wishes and thanks for following,
RSPB Community Information and Tourism Officer
Mull Eagle Watch
30th August 2017
Bunessan Primary School have now named our chick at Tiroran Community Forest after visiting for a day of fun and learning with The Mull and Iona Ranger Service and Mull Eagle Watch.
Children got messy making plaster casts of animal hoof prints along the forest tracks before learning about dinosaurs – the ancestors of eagles – with Emily and Kate from the Ranger Service. Over at the eagles hide, they learnt all about white-tailed eagles and enjoyed handling the real eagle feathers and other props but sadly, our eagle family was nowhere to be seen!
How many children make a white-tailed eagle? (photos: Sue Hawkes)
Over lunch time, with mouthfuls of ham sandwiches and cheesy wotsits, they shouted out name suggestions for the one female chick and the list was handed over to John Clare, the Forest Officer, to pick the name. Which was...
This translates as ‘muse’ or ‘noble-woman’ form Celtic languages. It is also one of the main female characters from J R R Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings – a half-elf, half human who eventually becomes a queen. A strong name for a powerful bird.
Dervaig Primary School are currently coming up with names for the two chicks at West Ardhu so watch out for these in the next few weeks.
Arwen is the most commonly seen eagle around Tiroran now, with Fingal and Iona proving trickier to track down these days but we’ve been seeing golden eagles, buzzards and kestrels and a juvenile great-spotted woodpecker on the feeders along with the chattering of crossbills high up in the conifers.
Arwen on her parents' perch in Tiroran Forest
Trips at both hides are running until late September and you can book on a tour by calling The Visitor Information Centre in Craignure on 01680 812556 or by popping in in person. Tours are free for locals.
Thanks for reading,
16th August 2017
At last, after a long and nerve-wracking wait, the chick at Tiroran Community Forest has successfully made her first flight.
Tiroran chick in the nest at four weeks old
On the afternoon of Friday the 11th, I arrived at the hide and was greeted by the sight of an empty nest. Nothing was seen of the family until a little later when I had a quick peek through the scope and spotted a pair of conspicuous yellow feet clinging onto a branch below the nest. After comically shuffling along the branch to avoid the strong winds, we saw some flapping and eventually, the chick made it to a higher branch and sat there for the duration for us all to admire.
Chick perched underneath the nest after fledging
At one point dad even landed in the nest and we got to see him sat directly above his teetering chick who almost looked desperate to return to its safety.
On the Sunday, visitors witnessed her soaring in the sunshine already like a pro. She’ll remain dependent on her parents for a few more months yet and hopefully, by the end of this month, we’ll have a name for her.
Trips are still running until the end of September but views of the eagles at both sites are no longer guaranteed.
As usual, you can book on a tour at either (or both!) of our two hides by contacting Craignure Visitor Information Centre on 01680 812556.