In case you missed it, here is a link to BBC2 Iplayer for the short film by Gordon Buchanan called Mull - Eagle Paradise - enjoy!
We've made you wait for this moment but they're here at last!
At the end of June this year with help from our friends at Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland, we fitted light-weight satellite tags to two of Mull's fine young white-tailed eagle chicks. World renowned bird of prey expert Roy Dennis from the Highland Foundation for Wildlife and climbers Justin Grant, John Taylor, Philippa Revill and Nick Purdy all helped the operation go smoothly with minimal, short-lived disturbance to the chicks and their parents.
This is Year 3 of a three year study into the dispersal patterns of immature sea eagles from their nest site. Our first two chicks Mara and Breagha in 2008 from Loch Frisa are still with us, exploring Scotland as they prepare to enter their third winter. The two chicks from 2009, Oran and Venus, sadly are no longer transmitting and we fear we may not be hearing from them again. Gone but not forgotten.
Introducing Shelly and Midge!
Shelly is a female chick and was hatched from the same nest as Oran last year. The nest is on land owned and managed by Forestry Commission Scotland who take great care to ensure the sea eagles nest successfully. The parent birds of Shelly and Oran are now very experienced. The female known by her wing tag as 'Green T' was hatched in the wild on the Isle of Skye in 1998 and her mate is 'Blue 9' from the 1997 releases of Norwegian birds in Wester Ross. This year they hatched two chicks and for a while Shelly had a baby brother. The dramatic story behind him will be told in a future blog but for now the spotlight is on Shelly. Her name is short for the Gaelic word for the summer-blooming yellow flag iris which abound in her nesting glen. She adapted quickly to the satellite tag which weighs just 70 grams and is solar-powered. She fledged on schedule aged 12 weeks old and has since been exploring her natal area. Soon she will be venturing further afield and we'll be with her. Follow her on the tracking page and see other photos of her and all the other pioneering satellite tagged chicks. Good luck Shelly!
Shelly - Photo John Taylor (Forestry Commission Scotland)
Midge is a male chick and is a brother to last year's chick Venus who is, sadly 'missing in action'. We're very grateful to the Mull estate owners on whose land Midge was hatched for letting these chicks be part of this important scientific study. Midge's parents have never had wing tags to our knowledge so we don't really know who they are but like the others, they are now very experienced parents and regularly raise a chick each year. Their nest site was particularly poignant this year as it was in the exact same spot as the first ever successful nesting attempt for this reintroduced population of sea eagles 25 years ago in 1985. It was like being transported back in time watching Midge bouncing about on his nest and seeing the adults perched nearby. Happy memories. But back to Midge in 2010! No prizes for guessing how he got his name. We were all being eaten alive by the voracious swarms of the Highland midge one balmy, muggy day in June. They were even beginning to bother Midge himself as he flicked and scratched his head sitting on his nest watching our approach. He too was fitted with his tag with no fuss or hitches and was soon watching us all depart allowing the parents to attend to him and feed him again. Like Shelly, Midge fledged on cue at 12 weeks of age but just take a look at his map when it's updated. You can view our sat tagged chicks here. The news today is that he's already gone as far as the nearby island of Lismore which is quite a big step for a young bird. Perhaps the recent winds have carried him there and he's gone a bit further than he planned? Look out for him if you're sailing past on Calmac's MV Isle of Mull ferry enroute for your autumnal break on Mull! Have a look at Holiday Mull and Iona for ideas.
Midge - Photo Roy Dennis (Highland Foundation for Wildlife)
So there you have them. The fabulous, new Mull Eagle Watch chicks beginning to make their way in this dangerous world of ours. Now they're on their own and we can only watch, hope and pray that they live long and successful lives. Good luck Shelly and Midge. I think you're both going to need it.
Dave Sexton RSPB Mull Officer
Why not visit the Mull Eagle Watch project this autumn and winter. Debby is standing by to take your call!
Hi Dave great to have all that information and surely these two will be lucky and get to breeding age and add to the numbers that will be nesting in the future,think those in East Scotland must soon be of breeding age.What a problem protecting all the nests but figure the RSPB has plans in place,good luck to all this years young Sea Eagles both wild hatched and those released from pens,as you say they will need it.
Good luck to you both, hope your first winter is not too harsh and hope to see you sometime. Thanks for the update and sharing these fabulous birds' stories with us. Heatherp
Fantastic news, here's hoping they and all the 'class of 2010' do well. You've got me thinking about an autumnal break......
Thank you Dave for the news. I so wish I was having an Autumn break on Mull! Sadly, that isn't likely. Love to read of the Eagles.
Hi Dave maybe see you on T V tonight see that Eagle Island on at 10.20 pm BBC 2.
Thanks for the news David & good luck to all 'our' chicks.
Did you see that 'Mull Eagles' is on BBC 2 at 10.20 tonight (Tuesday) just for 10 minutes. I will be watching.
Best wishes to you all for the coming winter, I hope it is not to harsh.
Lovely to read about the two new chicks for us to follow, I pray that they will do well like Mara and Breagh and not follow the unfortunate last years chicks fate. So sad when things go wrong when their parents have worked so hard in bringing them up. Very windy today in the south of England, even the sea gulls are finding it hard to make any progress. All the bald eagle chicks I have been following in the USA have fledged and the nests are now offline and nearly all the osprey nests are empty in north america as well, I will enjoy following Midge and Shelly's progress over the winter. It will be interesting to see if the male stays nearer home again and the female is more advernturous.
welcome Shelly and Midge. Fantastic news but still makes me sad to think about the class of 09:(
May you have long and "happy" lives.
Thanks so much for the update
Absolutely brilliant! Welcome Shelly and Midge and thanks for the update :) I read these pages regularly but don't blog often. Now I was thinking that Debbie, David and some of you might be interested 'bout sat-tagging WTEs in Finland, if so here is a link www.luomus.fi/.../satellite_eagles
Thanks for the information Dave, and photos, we will be watching with great interest. Sorry we won't be with you this year, but hopefully next spring!
It was wonderful to see Skye and Frisa on BBC 2 last night. I see it was a repeat but we obviously missed it when it was originallly shown on TV. We really enjpyed it, great filming of course.
It's a request for help for two storks. PLEASE excuse this being out of place here, but this is message from the continent seems worthy of our support....
"The military plans the removal of two white storks, which have been living in Zeltweg (Styria) since three years.
• If the animals can be captured, they plan to cut their wing feathers for two years to prevent their return to Zeltweg.
• If they can't be captured, they will be shot
With your signature, you protest against this animal abuse through the Austrian military."
Great news re the tagging and ringing of Midge and Shelly - will we be able to follow them sometime on Google Earth like Mara and Breagha?
Many thanks for all your welcoming comments to date and hope you enjoyed Gordon Buchanan's timely BBC2 10 minuter 'Mull - Eagle Paradise' earlier this week (link at top of blog). Just to say, Liz LFW, yes you should be able to follow them on Google Earth as with Mara & Breagha but as you may have noticed the tracking page has not updated recently. I'm promised by the top IT names in the land that it will be happening shortly. Thanks for your patience. More updates as we get them. Best wishes Dave
Dave, where did 26/10 come from??.
Midge & Shelly's map should now be updated to 12 September. The 26 October label should have read 26 August! This has now gone and we should be back on track. It'll be interesting to see where the next load of data shows them to be. We've had strong winds here for a week now so they could be anywhere!
Mara is still staying fairly close to home just across on Morvern whilst Breagha has gone off on one of her journey's over the sea to Isle of Skye again. I wonder if she's got a prospective mate up there as she's making a bit of a habit of this!
Best wishes, Dave.