Friday, 7 August 2009

Now you see them, now you .......

What an amazing day! Although the forecast was for sun and showers, the latter never materialised. The loch was completely still, reflecting trees, hills and clouds.

I arrived at the hide to witness a fly-past by our adult male, Skye. He landed in a tree opposite the hide and I quickly set up the scopes before leaving to collect the morning's visitors. Needless to say, when we returned he had gone and I hoped he hadn't gone hunting for the rest of the day.

I needn't have worried - not long after Skye returned, did a great fly-past giving everyone a good view of his white tail, and then Frisa appeared above him and the two birds circled above us before disappearing into the distance. Not to be outdone Heather, our chick, flew over showing off her flying skills and landed on a fallen tree in the bay opposite the hide.

We were also treated to a great view of the female Hen Harrier, and heard Kestrels alarm calling - probably spooked by the local Ravens.

Surely the afternoon couldn't be as good ...

No sooner had I started my introduction to the hide and the Sea Eagles, Skye flew directly overhead, as low as I had ever seen him. Again he circled to give everyone a very good view, then landed in the bay in front of us, just out of sight but not far from a Heron. Shortly afterwards Heather flew in and after a couple of attempts, managed to land in one of the trees opposite. As I walked down the path to the bottom of the field with our scope and a small party of visitors, the Heron caught an eel and took off, hotly pursued by Skye. As he has caught a Heron once before whilst the chicks were still on the nest, I wondered if we were going to see a repeat performance. They flew straight past us and we watched them for some time, then Skye dropped down out of sight and the Heron started to circle above him. I can only imagine that he had forced the Heron to drop his prey and had then taken advantage of it.

Whilst we waited to see what would happen next a Golden Eagle circled over the crag, and a Buzzard treated us to great views as he caught a thermal and spiralled up just above us. Everyone agreed that, whilst they are no longer a rarity in the UK, Buzzards are still beautiful birds. One of the youngsters in our group of visitors found a tiny common lizard on the grass path, and all the children crowded round to see it before it scurried off into the undergrowth.

Heather started calling every few minutes, and we were able to hear an adult calling from further away. I wondered if the adult had caught prey and was trying to persuade Heather to go and get it (rather than having it delivered by one of her parents). Whatever the calling was about, Heather was not going anywhere and sat in her tree preening.

At 15.00 our visitors managed to tear themselves away, and whilst I was tidying up the hide I happened to glance up to see Heather flying towards me. She came right overhead and I was amazed to see how much confidence she had gained in the short time since she fledged. She was flying very strongly with deep wingbeats and I watched her until she disappeared, before leaving for the day - though it was quite hard to tear myself away.

There are some days which are near perfect, and today was certainly one of them - good weather, an enthusiastic group of visitors and great views of our eagles. Wonderful!

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