The jubilee celebrations are upon us, up at Tollie we have done our best to get into the spirit of the occasion. We of course have our Red kites, and now we have a pair of Blue tits in the nest box, we just need something white. There has been reports of a White-tailed Eagle in the area so it would be nice if that put in an appearance over the weekend of celebrations, then if we could arrange for them all to hang about until the Olympics are over.
Blue tit about to enter the nest box on the side of the visitor centre at Tollie.Rumours of a nest in the vicinity of the visitor centre have been around for a couple of weeks now, I can confirm that they are true and we think that our regular visitor to Tollie is the male bird of the pair, he is the one with the blue and pink tags with the black triangle, I will hopefully get this confirmed as soon as I can. I think it is about time this kite had a name as blue/pink with black triangle is a bit of a mouthful. So far three names have been put forward, Tollie, for obvious reasons, Tristan, the ‘tri’ being a reference to his triangle symbol and Ruaridh which means Red King. Please let me know what you think.
The soon to be named (I hope), Blue/Pink with Black Trinagle. Thanks to Ronald for this and the Blue tit photo.Apart from kites and blue tits, lots of other things are being seen around Tollie. The Osprey is putting a regular appearance overhead, Chiffchaff and Willow warblers are regularly calling from near by. I was up there the other day and heard my first Whitethroat of the year with its scratchy protesting call coming out of the gorse bushes by the track, you can hear what they sound like here. Reports of Pine marten have been received and we have been finding chewed cones in the woods so we may have squirrels in the area too.
Who chewed these? Thanks to Liz for finding the cones and the photo.I noticed on the sightings board that Phoenix and Dodo had been spotted at Tollie, I think we would need some photographic evidence before either of these can be added to the list. Should anybody get any photos of either of these two please do not tell anybody and contact me directly as I think there may be a couple of quid to be made with these photos.
For the last few years we have been putting satellite tags on to some of our kites and you have been able to follow their progress through the Eyes to the Skies website. That website is no longer being updated but we have our new site on the main RSPB website and of course the community page which you have already found as you are reading the blog. It is our intention to have a tracking page from the main website too. So the kites are flying around happily transmitting data from their backs up into space, the data is being beamed back down to Sat Tag HQ where it is sent to me via email, I process the data and then upload the relevant bits on to the website, now here is where the problem lies, we are still having a few issues with this webpage, so the data is failing at the last hurdle and not getting to your computers. We have the RSPB’s finest minds working on the problems and hope to get it resolved very soon, so watch this space.
Here we see Lewis being fitted with his tag.
On Friday 27th April we held the official opening for Tollie, RSPB members of staff, volunteers and representative from the Brahan estate and the other agencies involved in the project were there to see guest of honour Dave Thompson MSP cut the ribbon. After all the time we have fed venison to the kites, it was only right that we got the BBQ out and cooked a few venison burgers for the guests, this was accompanied by Red Kite beer so a good time was had by all. I was interviewed by BBC Alba for the evening news, sadly I was left on the cutting room floor, so my bid to be the next Springwatch presenter as taken a bit of a hit.
Sarah Walker, RSPB Volunteer and cake baker with Dave Thompson MSP
Of the Kites themselves, we have two birds that are currently nesting, Professor Feather is in the same area are last year with an Aberdeen male, we also have Lewis who looks to be nesting in the Munlochy area. We also have two of the 2011 birds around our reserve at Loch Ruthven whilst the rest of the tagged birds are still around the Black Isle area. We are also seeing what looks to be nesting activity around the visitor centre, so we are just waiting to confirm this, it would be great to see this develop through the season.
We are now getting regular sightings of the Osprey over Tollie along with lots of other migrants, Chiff-Chaff and Willow Warblers are very vocal up there at the moment, Swallows have been sighted, just waiting for the Swifts and Whitethroat to put in an appearance. The last time I looked the year list at Tollie was sitting at around 64, so still some way to go to get the 100, but getting there.