Thursday, 10 September 2009

Raptor Bonanza

After days of torrential rain and strong winds the weather has finally changed and it seems that all the wildlife is celebrating.

When I arrived at the hide this morning Skye was sat in the trees opposite, preening himself and looking very relaxed. He waited there until our visitors had all had a really good look at him through our scope.

We went outside for a better view and there were Frisa and her daughter Heather, circling high above us. What a relief! We hadn't seen Heather for a few days and were wondering where she was and if she was OK. The chicks are usually seen with the parent birds at this stage, with food still being brought to them and the adults taking them on hunting trips. But today it seemed that that was exactly what was happening. The two birds circled higher and higher before heading off across the loch in the direction of Calgary. Hopefully Frisa was going to teach her chick how to hunt for their favourite meal - the Fulmars that the adults take from the cliffs. Whatever their plan, they disappeared over the horizon and had not returned in time for our afternoon trip.

Skye, possibly disgruntled by the fact that all eyes were on Frisa and Heather, took off from his perch and flew across to his favourite Larch tree, giving us a close view of his short white tail, huge beak and enormous broad wings. He settled down to preen again.

One of our visitors spotted a little flock of Crossbills at the top of the trees closest to the hide and as we tried to train the scope on them a beautiful Golden Eagle drifted across the treetops. Not to be outdone, the local Sparrowhawk put in a brief appearance in front of the hide, scattering all the songbirds far and wide. Young Buzzards seemed to be everywhere, as did the Ravens, and as a fitting finale a Peregrine Falcon flew over the old nest tree. And all the time the sun shone!

I really can't believe I only have two weeks to go at the hide. It has been such a privilege to witness a whole season with Skye and Frisa - from nest building, through egg laying and incubation, hatching and finally fledging. I've become quite attached to "our" birds and it was desperately sad to discover that our male chick, Bracken, had died after falling from the nest. But that's nature, and Heather is fit and well and receiving her parents' undivided attention. Maybe I can come back to the hide next year?

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