Thursday, 6 August 2009

Hide and Seek

Now that Heather has fledged she is really keeping us guessing: we never know where she is going to appear next! Each time we see her her flying skills have improved a little more. At one point we saw her flying alongside Skye, her father, and it was incredible to see this 15 week old chick who was larger than her 15 year old father! As with most birds of prey the female White tailed Sea Eagle is larger than the male, so Frisa and Heather are 25% bigger than Skye. (The scientific name for this is reversed sexual size dimorphism!).

To begin with Heather wasn't too adventurous and spent a lot of time sitting on a headland protruding into the opposite side of the loch. Frisa caught two Common Gulls and delivered them to Heather, and she spent hours sat with her daughter. On one occasion two walkers spotted them, but instead of enjoying the view they had from the track they decided to walk across the fields until they were directly opposite the eagles. This proved too much for Frisa who took off and flew back across the loch to perch in a tree. She never took her eyes off the intruder.

Heather stayed put and we wondered if she would be tempted to join her mother. When the afternoon trip ended we stayed on to see what would happen, slightly concerned that Heather was on her own on a peninsula surrounded by water on three sides.

The following morning there was no sign of the bird and it had been raining hard. Where was she? We need not have worried. As the weather dried up and the sun came out Heather crept out of the bracken where she was sheltering from the rain. We were very relieved.

Since then Heather has become a little more independent and isn't so reliant on her parents. We have seen her flying quite high, although she is still a little wobbly from time to time. We think Frisa has been teaching her chick how to land as we have seen the two birds flying together. Frisa lands in a tree and then takes off again and Heather follows, landing on exactly the same branch! Maybe Frisa is trying to teach her which branches will take her weight?

Our resident Hen Harriers have been flying close to the hide giving our visitors amazing views of both the male and female. We are hoping to see them with their chicks in the next week or two. On a smaller scale a family of Spotted Flycatchers have just fledged right in front of the hide and we have enjoyed watching their antics with our visitors. There's never a dull moment at the eagle hide!

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