Well, what a week and its only Wednesday!
Erik (yellowL) remains on the Isle of May, sticking to the East of the Island and being somewhat shyer that Ralf 2 years ago and YellowV remains on the Farnes, getting a fair bit of local media coverage and both birds are boosting visitor numbers to the islands in what is usually a quiet month, YellowV may even have taken a short trip to the Holy Isle last week. The seabirds have moved back out to sea now, but if both birds are patient the grey seal pupping will start in a couple of weeks with its associated carrion and waste to sustain them into the winter.
Sadly, the week began with the loss of a second 2010 eagle, this time to electrocution, after stocking up the food dump on Sunday I went radio-tracking in Fife and my heart sunk when I picked up the fast beep of a mortality signal, meaning we had a dead bird, after a couple of hours I found one of our young females electrocuted. I have written about electrocution on this blog before, losing birds is very sadly part of the re-introduction process and although we have done some work with Scottish Power to reduce electrocution risk, sadly we are not in a position to eliminate it all together and young sea eagles also die from electrocution in Norway and other European countries. We are monitoring the situation and doing what we can to address it and it is not affecting the success of our re-introduction so far.
I had a catch up with Allan Mee, Manager of the Irish sea eagle project on Monday and we were discussing how we were due another Irish eagle in Scotland as 3 had visited in the last year. I then opened my emails on Tuesday to a sighting of a 2009 Irish sea eagle near Invermoriston!
RSPB reserves are definitely the place to be if you are a sea eagle this week. YellowZ continues to move around the Forth, Kincardine bridge and our Skinflats reserve so the chickens of Fife can now breathe a sigh of relief! Thanks to everyone who has been sending in sightings and photos of him.
After writing that our females had been pretty sedentary, one of our largest females, YellowE has turned up at Loch of Strathbeg and was seen in the surrounding area in Aberdeenshire, this is the sibling of YellowO who remains in Fife.
This is a regular birding and bird ringing spot of Jenny and Ewan who helped tag the eagles this year and although they normally spend their time working on red kites and golden eagles they can't escape the wandering sea eagles! Thi is is the earliest that a newly released bird has reached Aberdeenshire, with birds normally turning up in October.
It was pretty windy as I walked up to the food dump this morning and it was great to see how much the birds’ flight has improved, they flushed a lot earlier as I walked up and managed to hold their positions in the wind with small adjustments of their wings when only a couple of weeks ago, the gusts would have sent them careering off over the horizon!
After a day stuck in the office getting computer training today, I received an excited phone-call from Chris Rodger, warden at Vane Farm, who was chasing two familiar looking sea eagles around Loch Leven, it was hard to tell with the bright sun, but Chris was sure the birds had turquoise tags, but the wind meant they were constantly on the move so he couldn’t read them.I headed down with the tracking gear and confirmed that it was the same two birds that had spent the winter on the reserve! The large female, turquoiseH, looking a bit older and more scraggy mid moult attempting to catch teal and small male, turquoiseX. After leaving Vane in early March these birds were at Tentsmuir point, at a communal roost near Coupar Angus and most recently roosting with 3 other 2009 birds in Strathardle in Angus during August and September.
The numbers of geese are building on the reserve so we hope they will stick around...... Oh and look out for us on the One Show on the 28th September!