(what a great song that was from Ian Dury!)
I know over recent weeks, its been hard to be really cheerful with the failure of the nest at Loch Frisa but we do have lots of things to be really cheerful about.
Our most exciting news is that one of the eggs on our buzzard nest has hatched! Our female buzzard has been incubating two eggs for just over a month - there is a camera on the nest with pictures beamed back into the hide. The first egg was due to hatch over the weekend and I couldnt get to the hide quick enough on Monday morning to turn on the camera and see if we had a chick. And there it was! A small ball of fluff, hardly able to hold its head up - and there was the proud mum, feeding the tiniest morsels with such tenderness and gentleness - I felt truly humbled to be watching this touching scene. And here it is - the first public viewing of our buzzard chick - I have taken a capture from our monitor so apologies for the quality but thought you would like a glimpse!
You can see the 2nd egg next to the chick - fingers crossed for hatching in the next day or two!
Here is a screen capture of Mum feeding the tiniest morsels to her new arrival!
On Tuesday we also spotted our first chicks out on the Loch - our female mallard set out across the Loch followed by her newly hatched brood of 10 chicks. We are pretty sure the sand martins have or are pretty close to hatching. We now have a camera set up alongside the quarry with close of views of the sand martin burrows so we can watch their comings and goings from the hide. This morning we were treated to a male hen harrier hunting across the far side of the loch - the first view of a harrier for several of our visitors.
What about Skye and Frisa I hear you ask? Well not to be outdone, they have provided some pretty spectacular displays this week. For a couple of days they had returned to a favourite knoll where they have great views of the glen - sat side by side enjoying the wonderful warm sunny weather we are enjoying at present (long may it last!). Unfortunately the lapwings were not too impressed with their choice of perch and certainly gave them a serious telling off - probably too close to their nest. Both Skye and Frisa then took off and did a wonderful flying display, across the fields and over the loch. Frisa still feels the need to spend some time on the nest - so strong is her instinct to carry on incubating the egg that must still be in the bottom of the nest - but these spells are getting shorter and shorter, mainly overnight. The pair of them are back together again and looking splendid in the sunshine.
Of course the siskins are still here - as feisty as ever and a real hit with our visitors.
Siskin - Loch Frisa, photo Debby Thorne
We also have a camera in an owl nesting box - the barn owl is a regular visitor and we have everything crossed he will take up residence in this newly installed nest box.
The weather has been truly wonderful - bright sunny days with beautiful blue skies - we really do have lots of reasons to be cheerful. So you can see, there is a great deal going on at Loch Frisa - do come and see us - we have lots to show you! Full details of Mull Eagle Watch.
White Tailed Eagle Information Officer
It is now.
Frisa and Skye have spent more time off than on the nest this week. They still managed to clock up 73 days. Or was it 74? To be honest we have struggled to keep up with them. One minute they're both sitting together on the distant hillside. You look away to talk to a visitor to the Eagle Hide, then you look back and there's only one bird left! Where did Frisa go? Did she just fly off or did she sneak back onto the nest? We give it an hour or so and then make a quick check and sure enough, there she is, back, low down on that very hard boiled egg.
A few minutes later, we look back at Skye who hasn't moved and there she is once more at his side. What torment must be going on in her hard-wired brain? The need to be with her egg; the need to be with her mate. Torn in all directions. But, hour by hour, day by day, the distance from the nest is growing. We all watched them on Thursday back on their favourite ridge. We had a big group to the Hide and I think we all felt 'the moment'. Skye was perched on a fence post when in flew Frisa to join him on an adjoining stob. Don't ever let anyone tell you eagles don't sit on fence posts. They do here.
As she alighted, both began the loud, echoing calls to each other which we all knew signalled the end for their nesting attempt this year. As they sadly serenaded each other, a hooded crow and then a lapwing almost knocked them off their perches. Laugh or cry, we actually felt relief that we, and they, could all at last move on. And what a show for our visitors who went away pleased to have witnessed a special moment. Frisa and Skye rarely fail to disappoint, come rain or shine in their lives.
This week we also had two busloads of B&B landladies from Oban and Argyll visit the Eagle Hide courtesy of Calmac and Holiday Mull and Iona. It was a whirlwind stop on their way to or from a tour at the Tobermory Distillery and lunch at the Western Isles Hotel. So they were all in a very good and jolly mood! And they will hopefully go back home and recommend us to their guests this summer. We may not have an eagle's nest to show them this year but we will have two stunning white-tailed eagles who will hopefully be perched nearby for much of the time. Our brilliant buzzards are due to hatch any second now and with the back drop of Loch Frisa, the mountains and moorland and plenty of other wildlife, it's a fabulous place to spend a couple of hours. We look forward to seeing you at Mull Eagle Watch
Call 01680 812 556 to book a trip, Monday to Friday at 10am and 1pm.
Dave Sexton RSPB Scotland Mull Officer
Well the latest news from Loch Frisa is that our eagles arent ready to give up their nest just yet! Its actually 67 days today they have been sat on that nest - Everyday I drive up the track to check on them, half expecting to see an empty nest. It nearly happened mid week.
On Wednesday, Dave and I travelled to Iona to lead a Corncrake Walk. It has been Wild Isles week on Mull with a whole variety of events taking place showcasing our wonderful wildlife. We spent the day on Iona and were joined by a large group of people, keen to try and spot the elusive corncrake. The day was beautiful and Iona sparkled - turquoise sea and white sand. Well it was a huge tick for me - I have heard many corncrakes but never seen one but I happened to be standing in the right place at the right time - I was so excited at seeing my first corncrake I couldnt get the words out to say "there's one!" Fortunately someone standing close by was able to say it for me and some of the other visitors managed to catch a glimpse before it disappeared into a bed of irises. It was a great way to spend an afternoon and as we watched for the corncrakes to appear we were rewarded with sightings of twite, wheatear, snipe, shelduck, little auks and rock doves. Halfway through the walk, I received a call saying that both adults were off the nest at Loch Frisa and that they have finally given up.
Later that evening I drove up just to see for myself and sure enough, Frisa was sat on her favourite lochside tree and there was an empty nest. I went home with a heavy heart and a tear or two - the end had finally come. The next day I was back up to the hide for one of our trips, and just had a quick check to see where the birds where - what a surprise to see Frisa sat back on the nest - Skye was sat about 2 trees away keeping a watchful eye. I didnt know whether to laugh or cry - she looked so comfortable in that nest and it is just part of her natural routine at the moment. They will abandon the nest soon and of course we will keep you posted. They are giving us some great displays with Skye trying to catch a fish at the head of the loch just in front of the hide - you certainly didnt need any binoculars to admire his white tail and huge wingspan.
Our buzzard is still incubating her two eggs - I calculate hatching will occur towards the end of the week - we will keep you posted. The sand martins are now incubating too - our great spotted woodpecker has been delighting our visitors this week, enjoying the peanut feeder at the hide - the siskins are still around too as well as our redpoll, reed bunting and of course the warblers.
Dont forget to come and visit us - the meeting point will remain at the south end of Loch Frisa (Salen/Aros end). To book a trip call our friends at Craignure Visitor Centre on 01680 812556 Mull Eagle Watch
White Tailed Eagle Information Officer, Mull
We've been hearing alot this week about the 'hung Parliament' and of the state of the nation 'in limbo'. Life seems at times to be almost at a standstill. Sounds a bit like Loch Frisa.
I don't know why we keep torturing ourselves! Tonight at 7 pm on yet another evening check to see what they were up to, there was the familiar alert but relaxed eagle head watching me go past. I was really hoping, I think, that they had finally called it a day. It seems strange to say it but that's how we all feel now.
There have been reports today of two adults seen flying together, of Frisa and Skye together in their favourite tree, of an empty nest...and yet here they were still firmly attached to their solitary, (probably fairly grubby by now), old egg. It is day 60 and their devotion is heart wrenching, frustrating and hopeless, all at the same time.
Many have asked if they could lay again this year but I'm afraid the answer is no. For such big birds they have just gone too far through their breeding cycle to be able to start again so late in the season. When they do finally quit, they will drift around in a fairly aimless way for a few days and then settle into their post-breeding pattern of moulting and sitting around even more than they do already! The good news is that they will still be in the area and visible for our visitors to the Eagle Hide - so do please still come and see us.
Much better news for many other pairs of sea eagles on Mull which, I'm plesased to say, seem to be hatching out like clock-work! I wonder why this cruel wing of fate decided to strike a blow to Frisa and Skye this year? Every other pair on Mull which incubated eggs is now feeding rapidly growing chicks; one pair is even doing it for the first time which is amazing and brilliant.
All this is fantastic news of course for sea eagle conservation. But every time I watch another female eagle edging her way carefully round the rim of the nest, talons clenched tight to avoid any damage to the precious contents, tearing off some tiny morsel of food and bending low into the nest cup towards a tiny, wobbling, downy head, I find myself thinking: why can't this be happening for Frisa?
For a few minutes this week, Frisa joined Skye on their loch-side tree. Was this the end? People in the hide held their breath. There was much calling between the two, the meaning of which we can only guess at. For a few moments, their heads and necks virtually intertwined and rested upon each other in a way we've never witnessed before. What can be going on in their instinct-driven minds? Emotion? Feeling? Nothing? Whatever it is, their apparent devotion to each other and to that lifeless, smudgy egg in the still sturdy nest, is touching to experience at first hand. Damn it - what a great nursery platform that old nest would have made!
Then their moment was over and Frisa returned to the nest to resume her duties, driven by some strong, seemingly unbreakable bond. But break it will. Break it must. Their lives and ours must move on. We just wish it would happen soon.
Call 01680 812 556 to book a trip to the Eagle Hide or visit the 'Date with Nature' web page for details.
At last we have some warm sunny weather on Mull, following what has seemed like day after day of rain! I know it has been wet in the south today but this was the scene at Loch Frisa.
Sadly Frisa and Skye are still taking turns at sitting on the nest. At the moment, its just a waiting game until they decide to eventually give up on this year's nesting attempt. Its been a huge disappointment for everyone involved in Eagle Watch. Our huge team of volunteers both on and off the Island who have given up their own time to spend hours keeping a watchful eye and then for it to end from a force over which we have no control - Mother Nature. But they will be back of that I have no doubt - next year, fighting fit and raring to go. What I would like to re-iterate though is that despite no chicks this year, Skye and Frisa are not going anywhere. Loch Frisa is their home and you can still come and see them at the Hide. They are giving us some spectacular flying displays as only they can and just wonderful views of them basking in the warm sunshine. I would also like to take this opportunity on behalf of Dave and myself to say a huge thank you for all your messages of support - we really appreciate it.
Apart from seeing our spectacular eagles, we also have a camera on a buzzard nest. Our female buzzard is incubating 2 eggs and is certainly proving a hit with our visitors. She is nearly half way through incubation and we have everything crossed for a successful hatching. Of course there are the regulars - the sand martins, the siskins, the mergansers and divers. A new addition to the feeder for the last week or so has been a male and female redpoll, and a male reed bunting has been clearing up the seeds from beneath the feeders. Today I heard our first common sandpiper against the background of a cuckoo and call of curlew. So lots to see and of course Skye and Frisa will welcome you with open wings. Bookings for trips to the hide can be made through the Visitor Information Centre at Craignure, telephone 01680 812 556 or visit the website for details Mull Eagle Watch
Breeding Male Lesser Redpoll- Photo Debby Thorne
News from elsewhere - the Estonian white tailed eagles have hatched - if you havent seen this webcam, I would urge you to take a look - and now more than ever with 2 newly hatched chicks on the nest - beats Coronation Street and Eastenders! Estonian Webcam
I cant leave without mentioning a certain event taking place this Thursday! To ensure our children of the future can enjoy the sight of our spectacular eagles, and enjoy a walk through a stunning bluebell wood - please sign our Letter to the Future we must act now!
And finally, congratulations to Finlay Christine and Sacha who got married on Saturday - Finlay, as many of you will know, was our Wildlife Crime Officer on Mull until his recent retirement. We wish them both a world of happiness and joy for their future life together.