....I do like to be the sea, especially if I'm a young sea eagle...making the best use of the themals during a warm April and heading south from Angus to the to the Forth.
TurquoiseZ, H, X and Z have all spent most of April and May there being joined by 1 and 3 year old females. Turquoise8 also broke away from the group heading even further south and spending some time in Northumberland.
TurquoiseZ (Norbett) has been making some of the biggest trips, first leaving the Backwater reservoir area in early April to move onto the Forth and popping back into Loch Leven at the end of April. His biggest movement was from Driesh in Angus to Tentsmuir over 40 miles away 2 days later.
Below is a map of his movements and him flying over the seals at Tentsmuir – many thanks to James Boardman for permission to use the photos
We were concerned about the effects of the strong winds on the eagle project on both sides of the North sea last week. I headed up to the release site with trepidation to check for any damage after the strong winds, luckily no trees had fallen on the aviaries but the wood certainly looks very different and this year’s young eagles will have no shortage of perches with all the fallen trees. In Norway Alv Ottar is out daily checking nests ands there have been some failures with young chicks being exposed to the wind and rain however, the season is looking good.
YellowO has returned from the Isle of Bute being tracked and seen over Tentsmuir on the 13th May. YellowE moved south from Aberdeenshire in early April to Atholl estate and the Loch Garry area in Perthshire where she is being spotted regularly.
I was lucky enough to get over to Mull during April to film some updates with Dave for a new sea eagle dvd for schools, its great to see how the west coast population is really going from strength to strength and share people’s excitement at spotting their first eagle at the Loch Frisa hide and we can’t wait to bring this experience to people in the east, although I expect the birds will keep us guessing for a couple more years about where they may breed. We’re already starting to see a trickle as increasing numbers of people contact me each year hoping to spot an east coast eagle during their summer holidays.
I’ll be jet-washing the cages and building new nests with project volunteers next week then off to Norway soon after to start collecting our fifth lot of chicks. Its really exciting to think that there are sea eagle chicks sitting in nests in Norway right now and growing fast, that will be flying around in East Scotland in a few months time
On the 19th we drove to some sites further north and collected our youngest chick from a large over-hanging birch tree, this was a nest we tried to collect from last year, but following a storm both chicks were found dead in the nest. The chicks react differently to your head popping over the edge of the nest depending on their age and personality. The younger/quieter chicks tend to flatten themselves, lying as low as possible in the nest on their bellies, whilst older chicks will stand up as tall as possible holding their wings out to make themselves look big and hissing. We checked another nest on an island that was being used by people for a picnic. The nest was only 10 minutes walk away but everyone had left the eagles to it. Once we got back later that night we went fishing for the chicks, catching pollock, mackerel and cod.
Sorry I am having to write this in sections as I just wrote a whole blog post with all the photos in and it didn't upload properly so having to start again!
The next day was not quite as successful, we were out with Monica, a present of a radio programme very similar to 'Out of Door's dealing with all things in the countryside for NRK (the Norwegian equivalent of the BBC). The media in Norway are also interested in the Scottish and Irish re-introduction projects. After a couple of long walks into nests one only had a single chick and at a second we found the cliff was too difficult to abseil down to get into the nest once we got there, we did see a family of ring ouzels on the way back though! Once we had dropped Monica off at the airport we walked along the shore to a nest in a small skita spruce and were rewarded with twins. The chick left in the nest is fitted with Norwegian rings, the blue colour is the area code for Norway and the colour ring for 2011 is red and black. There were also the remains of a hedgehog left in the nest, probably taken as roadkill.