Friday, 18 September 2009

Playing Hard to Get?

This week the Sea Eagles have really made us work hard. As Heather, their chick, gets braver they are all venturing further afield, although they always come back to the loch to roost. We have been arriving at the hide earlier each day so that we can locate at least one of the birds before we collect our visitors.

Today was the most unusual roost of all. We had driven right along the loch to try to find them, prepared to lead a small convoy of visitors to spot the birds. We drew a complete blank. They weren't at any of their favourite roosts, nor did we see them flying or indulging in one of their favourite pastimes of drinking and bathing at the edge of the loch. We set up our screen and DVD player (powered by solar panels - thank goodness it has been sunny recently) so that we could at least show our visitors some footage of the eagles, and set off to collect them and escort them to the hide.

On the way we stopped at the top of the hill (the only place we can get a 'phone signal) to call in to the booking office and check if we had any more bookings for the trip. Whilst my colleague, Debby, was making the call I noticed a number of Ravens and Hooded Crows circling and diving right on the horizon. I grabbed my binoculars and scanned the hill. There was certainly plenty of activity from the Ravens and Crows, as well several stags right on the horizon and more lower down on the hill. As I scanned lower down the hill, looking for some carrion that might have attracted the birds, something caught my eye. There, at the top of one of the Sitka Spruces, were our two adult eagles, quite happily perched one above the other. This pair have such a firm bond, and most of the time when we see them perched together they are in the same tree, sometimes on the same branch.

We set up the scope and all our visitors had a great view of Frisa at the top of the tree, and Skye slightly lower down. As we watched, Frisa looked up high above her and then took off. Whilst everyone else watched to see where she went, I scanned the area she was looking at and sure enough, there was Heather, their chick. Shortly afterwards Skye took off too. They were flying so high that we were afraid that that was the last we would see of them.

The party carried on down to the hide, we started our introductory talk whilst scanning the area, and there, sitting in one of his favourite trees opposite the hide, was Skye. He stayed there all morning, preening the last of his moulting body feathers, sometimes turning and stretching his great wings almost as if he was posing for us.

Our visitors were delighted - what more could they ask for?

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