Mull Eagles


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
  • All was going so well until ........

    Last Saturday, we were celebrating the official opening of the South West Mull & Iona Development Trust Community Forest at Tiroran.  Mull Eagle Watch were delighted to be a part of this wonderful day and visitors were amazed to see a display from Iona, the female, having a grapple with the local buzzard who had flown a bit too close to the nest.  As well as enjoying the sunshine and the delights of the forest, visitors enjoyed views of the 2 chicks on the nest and at the end of the proceedings, as if on cue, Iona did a fabulous fly over as if to wish everyone good luck in the new community forest.

    Opening of Tiroran Community ForestVisitors to Tiroran Community Forest with great views of the White Tailed Eagles

    photo Debby Thorne

    This week has been very busy with the ringing team on the Island.  As the Tiroran nest is one of the last to hatch, they were left until last to have their leg rings put on to ensure the chicks were big enough.  So Friday morning dawned and our visitors on the morning trip had great views of Iona, as she sat in a nearby tree as the ringers climbed the tree to the nest.  It really is a strange sight seeing a grown man appear on a white tailed eagle nest.  After they had put on the rings, weighed and measured, Dave Sexton and the ringers, Justin, Jo, Marc and Andrew came up to report on their findings.  When I saw Dave's face I knew something was wrong and in that instant I knew what he was going to say.  "the little one didn't make it".  There was a sizeable difference between the 2 chicks and I knew it would be tough but I had everything crossed for the 'little one'.  My heart sank - and managed to put on a brave face - I was gutted.  Its funny how we always want the underdog to pull through.  It will be sent away for research to see if there are any clues as to why it didn't survive - there was certainly plenty of food on the nest - we have experienced some real extreme weather on Mull from snow just before hatching to very hot and humid.  At the moment, we just don't know why but will let you know if we are able to find out anything more.  The first chick is doing great and we await to see whether its male or female.  

    Here is the first photo of the chick - you can see it still has some of the fluffy down on top its head and on the wings - this will disappear as more of the dark brown feathers come through.  It has 2 leg rings - one is a BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) and the other is a coloured leg ring with the chick's unique numbers.

    Chick at Tiroran

    As you can see, a very healthy looking chick, now 6 weeks old.  Iona and Fingal will now concentrate on bringing in food for their youngster - who is now starting to feed itself, tearing bits off and rummaging around the nest.  In due course, our local primary children will name the chick so will keep you posted.

    Mother Nature can be cruel at times but sometimes its her way of saying something just isnt right.  However, Fingal and Iona still have a very healthy chick and we are getting some great views of it moving around the nest as well as great flying displays from Fingal and Iona.

    Come and see us at Mull Eagle Watch  Booking is essential - call our friends at VisitScotland Craignure on 01680 812556.

    Debby Thorne

    RSPB Ranger, Isle of Mull

  • Can't Believe my Eyes!!

    I am sat writing this blog on a balmy Sunday evening - the window is open and a blackbird is singing its heart out, along with the calls of curlews and oystercatchers mixed in with a cuckoo.  Its a wonderful time of year as new life is springing up all over the place.

    Visitors to South West Mull & Iona Development Trust have been wowed by some fantastic flying displays from Fingal and Iona, as well as some tender moments as they feed their young chick, now 3 weeks old.  The young chick is quite lively and is like a little jack in the box popping up and down and moving around the nest.  So you can imagine my surprise when we saw something else moving on the nest - was it Iona moving behind a branch? We just couldn't quite see.  The last week has seen the weather particularly warm and Iona can sometimes try to find some shade under a branch that overhangs the nest that slightly obscures her.  After a  lot of patience and staring and then suddenly - there it was - no mistake - a second head alongside our first chick!

    There was a lot of eye rubbing as I couldnt quite believe what I was seeing - but there right in front of me, and our visitors on Friday afternoon,  2 chicks for Fingal and Iona.  The visitors to Tiroran on Friday afternoon were just as excited as they were the first visitors to see the second chick.  There is a difference in size between the chicks but I have certainly seen both adults taking turns feeding both chicks so with a bit of luck, our 2nd chick will survive - it has certainly been very active over the weekend making sure we all see it.  

    The weather this week is forecast to be warm and sunny - just what we need for fast growing eaglets.  The rate of growth is incredible from little white downy heads to full size chocolate brown eagles as big as the adults  when they are ready to fledge when they are about 12 weeks old.

    (Young eagles on the nest - photo thanks to Iain Erskine - copyright Iain Erskine)

    Come and meet the family - booking is essential via our friends at the VisitScotland Craignure office - telephone 01680 812556.

    Keep up to date with Steph the Ranger at West Ardhu North West Mull Community Woodland Mull Eagle Watch at

    Mull Eagle Watch is a partnership between RSPB Mull Eagle Watch Scottish Natural Heritage Forestry Commission Scotland Police Scotland Mull & Iona Community Trust - and this year thanks to South West Mull & Iona Development Trust and North West Mull Community Woodland who are hosting Mull Eagle Watch.

    We look forward to meeting you soon.

    Debby Thorne

    RSPB Ranger

  • Fingal and Iona are pleased to announce ........

    White Tailed eagle - copyright Iain Erskine(Photo courtesy Iain Erskine)

    the egg (s) they have been incubating for the last 38 days have finally hatched!   Having endured persistent rain, Arctic blasts and a blizzard, Fingal and Iona have done an amazing job keeping the egg (s) dry and warm and are now feeding their young.  At this moment, we do not know how many chicks they have as they are still tiny and safely cocooned within the nest cup or under an adult bird, but as soon as we know how many, we will let you know.  Fingal and Iona have been kept busy as well as taking on the role of parents, they have been keeping a close eye on the young golden eagles that have been hanging around for several weeks now.  This afternoon, Fingal was patrolling the ridge and at one point, all 3 goldies were close by, as well as the local buzzard.  Fingal dropped like a stone out of the sky towards the buzzard who had got just a bit too close to the nest.  It looked as if he was going to take the buzzard and we all held our breath as we watched him chase the buzzard until it was safely out of the area.  

    Some of you will be aware of the White tailed eagles in Estonia and the amazing webcam - they have managed to successfully hatch 3 chicks which is quite a rarity - make yourself a cuppa and settle down to watch Estonian Webcam

    Golden Eagle - courtesy Iain Erskine

    Golden Eagle - (photo courtesy Iain Erskine)

    Don't forget, Mull Eagle Watch is located at 2 sites this year courtesy of  South West Mull & Iona Development Trust and North West Mull Community Woodland - come and join us and watch the story unfold.  Booking is essential via VisitScotland Craignure on 01680 812556.

    You can read about Hope and Star here West Ardhu blog

    Debby Thorne

    RSPB Ranger, Isle of Mull