Monday, 18 May 2009

Time for a bath

Today dawned warm but dull with the forecast for rain. This morning at the hide we were treated to great views of both adult Sea Eagles flying and bringing in food, and the chicks were very active on the nest. At 33 days old now they are growing fast and are now greyish brown - difficult to see against the branches in the nest until they move.

The juvenile Golden Eagle came through again - he nearly always takes a direct line over the nest and I wonder if he is looking at the store of food that our Sea Eagles have left for their chicks. Thank goodness he hasn't been tempted to go and help himself, and our adult birds don't seem to be too worried by his visits.

This afternoon the promised rain arrived. Both adult Sea Eagles were away from the nest but within minutes of the heavy rain starting both flew back in, one with food, and the chicks were fed and sheltered.

I took a group of visitors to our forward hide and we were treated to the most amazing sight. Frisa flew out of the trees and circled above the loch in front of us getting lower and lower. We all thought she was going to take a fish but no, she landed in the shallows about 150 metres away from us. First she drank, and then she bathed. Not just a quick dip, but a real dunking, shaking her wings and dipping her whole body under the water. After a while she walked out onto the shore, had a good shake and began to preen. We could all see her with the naked eye, but with binoculars and scopes the views were amazing.

Once she was happy with her appearance she took off and flew to the trees opposite us, all the time being mobbed by two Hooded Crows who actually made contact with her. One of them had the temerity to land in the tree next to her, but it soon decided she was a bit too close for comfort and disappeared.

It was certainly the closest view I've ever had of an adult sea eagle, and our visitors were speechless. After 38 days of incubating her eggs, followed by another month tending her chicks and feeding them, Frisa must have been feeling very much in need of a clean up - she really did seem to be enjoying her ablutions. Now her tail is whiter than white again!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Sunshine and an Osprey!

Well, this week we could be in a different country. The torrential rain and gales have blown through and we have had the most wonderful warm, sunny days.

The eagles have been working hard to feed their rapidly growing chicks and we have had some wonderful views of both adults flying right overhead giving some spectacular displays. When the sun catches the white tail our visitors are awestruck.

The chicks are much more active this week at almost four weeks old, and are beginning to try to pull their own food apart. Their antics are quite amusing when they both have the same piece of food, with one of the youngsters often falling over backwards.

Whilst our party was split between the top and forward hides on Monday we had a fantastic view of an osprey flying through. Ospreys don't nest on Mull, but every year we have at least one bird turning up on the island and maybe one year we will have a pair who decide to stay. Our bird gave us a lovely display circling low over the loch before flying southwards.

We've also had a juvenile Golden Eagle floating around above the hide - not getting too close to the nest, thank goodness, but giving our visitors a great opportunity to see the difference in wing and tail shape between Golden and Sea Eagles.

As I write the sun is still shining - long may it last!

Monday, 11 May 2009

Some Anxious Moments

Last week's appalling weather had us on the edge of the seats as we wondered what was happening with our Sea Eagle family.

Torrential rain and low cloud meant that most of the time the nest was completely obscured and for two days we did not even see the adults going out to hunt. On the odd occasions we could see the nest the adult bird looked bedraggled and wet, but still huddled as low down as possible to keep the chicks dry and warm. Then to add to the eagles' problems a strong wind got up and the adults struggled to keep a hold of their favourite perch.

The worst time of all for me was when I saw both adult birds leave the nest and fly off towards Calgary, leaving two vulnerable little chicks lying wet and cold in the nest. Frisa was only gone for 30 minutes but it seemed like forever. When she eventually returned she brought in some food at last.

After the last visitors had gone I went down to our forward hide where we have a telescope trained on the nest. I really didn't expect to see anything as the cloud was so low, but it cleared just enough for me to see Frisa standing on the nest delicately feeding her chicks with the two little white heads bobbing up and down. The sense of relief was enormous, and we are hoping for better weather for the week ahead. This week is Mull Wildlife Week and we are usually blessed with sunshine, so fingers crossed!

We have had plenty of other sightings around the hide, so more of those in my next post.