The chick at Tiroran is now flying like an old pro! It hasn't taken him long to master the skills of picking up a thermal, a warm pocket of air to give him some height, and showing off some beautiful soaring. Fingal and Iona are never far away, and are still bringing in food as the chick is not independent yet, but that will not be long.
Iona, female white tailed eagle - Tiroran Forest - Debby Thorne
As mentioned previously, our trips to Tiroran now comprise a walk through the Community Forest as a guided walk which gives me a chance to point out some of the other amazing wildlife and flora that abounds against the stunning back drop of Ben More. As well as looking for our eagle family, we spot lots of other birds including golden eagles, short eared owl, kestrels and the resident buzzards as well as some of the smaller birds to be found in the forest including goldcrests and crossbills. We have had some great views of dragonflies and butterflies as well as the huge array of wild flowers.
Meadow Pipit - Debby Thorne
There are signs that our summer is starting to come to an end - the Rowan trees are full of berries, the bracken is turning yellow and large flocks of pipits and swallows are gathering - ready to make their journey to warmer climbs. We are lucky that our eagles are here all year round and over the winter we look forward to our migrant visitors such as geese, redwings, fieldfare and possibly waxwings if it gets cold enough.
The last day for trips to Tiroran will be Friday 23 September. Dont forget to book through Craignure Visit Scotland office on 01680 812556.
Isle of Mull Ranger
Remember this? The bundle of fluff here is the chick at Tiroran when he was being ringed in the middle of June.
Well today and I am delighted to report the fantastic news that the chicks at Tiroran South West Mull & Iona Development Trust and West Ardhu North West Mull Community Woodland sites have now successfully fledged. The story was covered in the Scottish Press here https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/islands/990372/sea-eagle-chicks-have-successfully-fledged/
The Tiroran chick will be named by the children from our local primary school when they return from their summer holidays in mid August. It was a very special moment to see the chick launch itself off and fly - as if it had been doing it for years rather than a beginner. He remains in the area and its great fun in the morning trying to find where he is but a big clue is the adults are often nearby. They will bring in food and drop it close by and encourage the chick to fly and he has been very obliging. Its a very special moment, having watched over Fingal and Iona during the 38 day incubation process, then seeing them feed and protect their young for 12 weeks through rain and sunshine. To the moment when the chick leaves the nest and flies. It will not be long before he is catching his own food and then eventually he will move away from the area. But for now, as we watch junior progress, we wish him to remain safe, and a long productive life - where ever he ends up!
Our trips to Mull Eagle Watch continue but now comprise walking through Tiroran Forest to get the best views possible of our eagle family - at the same time learning about the Forest and all that dwells within it. Booking is essential on 01680 812556. Suitable clothing and footwear recommended for the Forestry track.
RSPB Ranger, Isle of Mull
Sunday evening, sat looking out on a flat, mirror like Sound of Mull with the sound of oystercatchers and curlews as my background music - I'm not sure it gets much better.
At Tiroran Community Forest South West Mull & Iona Development Trust I am lucky to have an office where I can listen to the sounds of goldcrests, buzzards mewing, song thrush singing, siskins creating havoc as the youngsters take over the feeders, all trying to find a perch to call their own. Oh yes, and of course, white tailed eagles calling, including our chick which shouts out to the adults when its hungry. The chick is now just over 11 weeks old and when I left yesterday, had ventured out on to a supporting branch, which holds the nest, and then carrying out some amazing wing exercises - huge wings flapping to build up the muscles, accompanied by some serious hopping that would be right at home in the Hop Skip and Jump event in the forthcoming Olympics in Rio.
We are at the stage now where the adults ease off bringing in food in an attempt to encourage the chick out of the nest. The chick may do a short flight but usually hop down the branches of the tree onto the ground. Fingal and Iona will still bring in food but deliver it a distance away "if you are hungry, come and get it!" - then the fun begins as the chick starts to follow the adults, learning to fly and hunt - sometimes landing on branches that cant support its weight - great fun to watch. So, we are now just waiting for the chick to take that leap of faith and Go!
Here is a short video clip taken on Saturday of the chick flapping those huge wings.
It really is an amazing time of year as the Island seems to be alive with all manner of wildlife. At Tiroran, the golden ringed dragonflies are everywhere along with dark green fritillary butterflies. This week hen harriers have fledged around the Island, and the local kestrels at Tiroran have been keeping us entertained with their flying antics. As I drive along the shores of Loch na Keal, I have watched the Grey lag geese as they began incubation, and now leading their goslings across the grass to the shoreline - just amazing how quickly they grow.
Grey lag goose and goslings
Golden ringed dragonfly
Dont forget - you need to book to join a Ranger led trip either at Tiroran or West Ardhu North West Mull Community Woodland - just call the VisitScotland office at Craignure on 01680 812556.
Keep up with Steph and the eagles at West Ardhu, Star and Hope - here is a link to the blog https://mulleaglewatch.com/2016/07/24/an-eagle-called-hope/
Until next time ......