Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Wonderful news!

I'm delighted to say that Skye and Frisa are proud parents!

We're not sure how many chicks they have, although we suspect two, but we have had some wonderful views of Frisa tenderly feeding her offspring.

It always amazes me that such a large bird, with feet almost as big as my hand, can tear tiny pieces of food from the prey and gently place it into her chick's beak - a beak about the size of your fingernail.

Skye is busy playing the proud father and has chosen a roost very close to the nest tree so that he can guard his new family when he is not out hunting for them. Frisa spends her time rearranging the nest bowl so that it is comfortable for her chick(s) before settling herself gently down to keep them warm. Today the weather was cooler and there were some very heavy rain showers, so she was brooding her young very closely, but she did allow herself a little time away from the nest. As soon as she was certain that Skye had taken over in the nest, she did a small circuit before flying right over our hide - as if to tell us all the good news.

The adult birds will be very busy for the next few weeks, bringing in ever increasing amounts of food for their family. By eight weeks of age the chicks will be fully grown - an incredible growth rate - and they will spend the last three or four weeks growing their flight feathers to their full length and practising wing exercises on the edge of the nest. At around twelve weeks the chicks will be ready to fledge and the adults will be trying to encourage them to fly by perching in a nearby tree with food until the youngsters take that plunge into the unknown.

Skye and Frisa are not the first pair of Sea Eagles on Mull to hatch their chicks this year. You might remember the publicity in the press last year when a photographer got too close to another nest on the island, forcing the female to leave her eggs for well over an hour. The eggs chilled and failed to hatch and the photographer was charged with reckless disturbance and fined £600. This year the eagles built a new nest and last week their chicks hatched, so everyone is delighted.

Skye, who is 15 years old, and Frisa, 17, have been nesting on Loch Frisa for eleven years now, so they know their territory well and this year's nest is well positioned to keep intruders away. They are still harassed by the local Ravens, buzzards, Hooded Crows and Golden Eagles, and even the occasional juvenile Sea Eagle flies a little bit too close to the nest, but you can rest assured that both birds will guard the nest with their lives.

There will be plenty of activity over the weeks to come, so if you can get to the hide we'll be delighted to tell you all about it. If you can't make it to Mull this year keep watching the blog and I'll do my best to make you feel as if you are here with us.

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