June, 2012

Wildlife

Wildlife
We're about more than just birds (though obviously we like them a lot).

Mull Eagles

Follows the fortunes of Mull's white-tailed eagles and its other fascinating wildlife
  • New Nest at Mull Eagle Watch!

    Stop press: 18 chicks found in nest at Glen Seilisdeir!

     

    Well 18 pupils to be exact! This week we were delighted to welcome the P4-P7 pupils and teachers from Bunessan Primary School.  The children (and teachers) were very excited and after a talk about the eagles, we set off very quietly to the very special viewing area where they would be able to see the chicks in the feathers so to speak!

     

    We headed off down the track, stopping along the way at the remains of the township, Knockroy, and to watch the local buzzard out hunting.  Once inside the viewing area, there were several muffled squeals as the children got their first glimpses of the chicks.  It was wonderful to see such excited faces - for some it was their first view of a white tailed eagle - I hope it remains a very special time for them for many years.  It was very difficult to drag them away as I think they would have been happy there all day watching the antics of our 2 chicks.  But tummies rumbled and lunch was calling.

     

    After lunch, the children then had a very important task to carry out - to build a life size eagle nest.  They had great fun and were very well organised in deciding how to build it and what materials to use.  After the nest was built, the nest needed to be tested - who better than our 18 chicks - I mean children!

     

    Pupils trying out the nest for size and comfort (photo Debby Thorne)

     

    Well as you can see, it was a perfect fit and all agreed it was very comfortable.  It was great to have the children spend the day with us at Mull Eagle Watch and everyone had a fabulous time.  Tomorrow all the schools on Mull and Iona break up for the summer holidays - just to wish all pupils moving upwards and onwards the very best of luck - a new chapter is beginning for you all.

     

    Oh and I forgot to mention, the pupils had one very important task to complete - the naming of Fingal and Iona's 2 chicks - I am delighted to say, the names are ..............................................

    sorry, cant tell you just yet - you will have to wait just a bit longer - but watch this space!

     

    Happy Holidays, until next time

     

    Debby Thorne

    White Tailed Eagle Information Officer

    Isle of Mull

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • and now stars of Radio!

    Well - if anyone of you were driving home from work this evening listening to Drivetime with Simon Mayo on Radio 2, you will have heard Dave talking about eagles! Yesterday's guest on the show was Glenn Frey from the band The Eagles (our favourite group of course!) - so this evening Simon wanted to go one step further and talk about the feathered variety.  If you missed it, here is a link to it - if you fast forward to 19.30 you can pick it up at the start.  Radio 2 - Simon Mayo Drivetime

     

    As many of you will recall, the BBC Springwatch team came to Mull and spent a wonderful few days filming basking sharks, goats and white tailed eagles.  If you missed it, here is a link to the clip where you can get a sneak preview of the viewing area of Mull Eagle Watch at Glen Seilisdeir. 

     

     

    Dave was also invited to write a guest blog for the Springwatch website - here is the link BBC Nature - Mull Sea Eagles - The Young Generation

     

    Dont forget to book your trip to Mull Eagle Watch - the chicks are 8 weeks old today and are doing really well. Trips are proving very popular so make sure you book ahead.  Please call the Visitor Information Centre in Craignure on 01680 812556.

    Keep up to date on Twitter - @skyeandfrisa

    and Facebook - Mull Sea Eagles

     

    Until next time,

     

    Debby Thorne

    White Tailed Eagle Information Officer

    Isle of Mull

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Heaven is a place on Earth!

    courtesy Belinda Carlisle

     

    Fingal and Iona's chicks are now coming up to 8 weeks old - where has the time gone?  They have been fitted with their snazzy leg rings - so they now have a unique number.  Let's hope no-one ever has to ring the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) phone number that is printed on the leg ring, in case found.  This week, the pupils from Bunessan Primary School are visiting the hide and they have the very important task of naming the chicks.   Watch this space!

     

    Fingal & Iona's chicks at leg ringing - photo Justin Grant

     

     

     

    Chicks at ringing time - carried out under special license

    photo courtesy Justin Grant

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The chicks will leave the nest (fledge) between 10 and 12 weeks at which time they will come down on to the lower branches eventually to the ground where Fingal and Iona will continue to feed them. After a week a so, the chicks will start to take short flights, following their parents, learning the finer skills of flying and very importantly, landing!  Trips to the hide are proving very popular so to avoid disappointment, make sure you call to reserve a space on 01680 812556.

    Last week, I joined the crew of Sealife Surveys on board Sula Beag for their 7 hour whale watch trip to spot seabirds.  As you may have heard, Mull has been experiencing almost tropical weather with wall to wall blue sky and sunshine.  I expected this to break the day we were due to go out but incredibly I awoke to see the Sound of Mull like a sheet of glass and the sky blue from start to finish.  But knowing how quickly things can change, especially out at sea, I took all the waterproofs, extra jumpers and tempting fate, the suncream.  I was welcomed aboard by Popz and his trusty companion Millie (the sea dog of course!) and Ewan our guide.  We had hardly got out of the bay, when 6 gannets flew past in perfect formation.  The gannets that come and feed from the waters around Mull come from one of the colonies as far out as St Kilda.  I could stand for hours watching gannets as they dive like daggers through the sea to catch fish.

     

    Immature Gannets in flight Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)Immature Gannets in flight

    Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Soon we were spotting harbour porpoises - as the sea was so flat calm they were very easy to see.  I started scanning the rocks and crags along the coast and, as if like a magnet, there it was - an adult white tailed eagle - basking in the sunshine, a magnificent sight.  Further out to sea we spotted puffins, guillemots, razorbills, manx shearwaters, common gulls, fulmars, arctic terns, and shags.

     

    Guillemots - Photo Debby Thorne

     

     

     

    Bridled Guillemot

    Photo Debby Thorne

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    As we got further out to sea, Ewan shouted "dolphins" - and we could see in the distance, splashing and activity on the water ahead.  As we got closer an excited Popz came up to tell us that they werent just bottlenose or common dolphins but white beaked dolphins.  In 30 years, he had never come across this particular species in the waters around Mull.  The engines on the boat were turned off and gradully the dolphins came closer to the boat - we hardly dare breath.  It was as if time stood still as we all watched in awe at these gentle, serene creatures as they swam around and under the boat.  A very special moment I will never forget.

     

    white beaked dolphins - photo Debby Thorne

     

     

     

     

    white beaked dolphins -

    photo Debby Thorne

     

     

     

     

      

     White beaked dolphin - photo Debby Thorne

     

    As we turned to leave, they joined us for a while bow riding - just magical.  We ventured on and arrived at the stunning Cairns of Coll - small rocky islands whose only inhabitants are seals, terns, fulmars, pipits and shags.  It was like a scene from the Caribbean - turquoise sea and white sand - I had to pinch myself to remember that I was in Scotland.  If Heaven exists, then it was surely that moment in that place.  After lunch, we all agreed to venture further out to sea as the conditions were just incredible - it wasnt long before we were watching a minke whale working the tide line.  As one dived, we all waited for it to surface in front of the boat only to hear a huge splash behind us as we all missed one taking a deep dive to fish deeper down in the sea.  We had 3 minke whales (or stinky minke as they are known locally). As we reluctantly headed back towards home, we were rewarded with the amazing sight of a golden eagle, circling along the cliffs, always magical to watch as it caught a thermal and rose ever higher into the clear blue sky.  Close by, a couple of gannets were diving into the sea and surfacing with a large fish.  I was amazed at the number of gannets we saw that day - hopefully a sign they are doing well in this part of the World.

    All too soon, the trip had ended - I arrived back to dry land, with a grin from ear to ear - it was an amazing day out - thanks to Popz and Ewan from Sealife Surveys (based in Tobermory) for an unforgettable day out - keep up the good work.

     

    Debby Thorne

    White Tailed Eagle Information Officer

    Isle of Mull