Thursday, 29 April 2010

Disappointing news at Loch Frisa

I've been putting off writing this blog in the hope that I might have some good news, but it seems almost certain now that Skye and Frisa's nest has failed this year. After the excitement when it seemed that the first egg had hatched and we thought we had witnessed the adults feeding a chick, it looks likely that that chick was too weak to survive. When Skye and Frisa went back to sitting tight on the nest we hoped that a second egg might produce a stronger chick, but it was not to be.

Although both adult birds are still taking turns at sitting on the nest, too many days have gone by now for anything to hatch, and the adults don't seem to have the same enthusiasm for their nest duties as they did earlier on. It's easy to give Skye and Frisa human feelings and say they look miserable, but it must be hard for them, having gone through all the motions of pair-bonding, displaying, mating, egg-laying and incubating, to end up with no chicks to rear.

This morning I drove along the loch to check the birds; Skye was sat in their favourite tree and Frisa was still on the nest, but she was looking all around her, preening and shuffling about. It's likely that they could continue to incubate for two weeks or more but as time goes on they will be less conscientious about sitting tight and eventually they will give up.

Today has been such a beautiful day I've been unable to dwell for too long on the disappointments at the nest. The Raven colony was as active as ever, and the Red-breasted Mergansers were displaying to each other. This afternoon I was talking to some visitors at the hide whilst watching Frisa sitting in the lochside tree. Three Common Gulls flew over and began relentlessly mobbing her, diving at her again and again. Occasionally she ducked, mostly she just shrugged her shoulders and ignored them. After fifteen minutes the gulls bored of the sport and flew back to their favourite roost on the headland opposite the hide. Frisa sat for ten minutes and then took off, flying low over the loch. Just as the gulls flew up in alarm we realised what she was planning, and sure enough she dived down. Unfortunately she was just out of sight, but the gulls began mobbing again, so it was clear that she had caught one of them and taught the rest of them not to mess with a Sea Eagle. Maybe it helped her to take out her frustrations on her tormentors.

There may not be Sea Eagle chicks at Loch Frisa this year but life will go on as usual at the hide - there's plenty of wildlife to see and Skye and Frisa will still be around the loch giving us great views. If you are planning to come to the hide this year, please don't be put off - we have lots to share with you. The other nine pairs of Sea Eagles on Mull are all in the midst of the breeding season, and I will keep you up to date with what has been going on with them, as well as updating you on our Buzzard-cam, and hopefully a few surprises too.

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