Thursday, 19 April 2012

Glad to be back!

mull sea eaglesAfter what seems like a very long (and extremely wet) winter, I'm finally back watching eagles and sharing the experience with our visitors at our wonderful new location.

Our resident pair of Sea Eagles have been named Iona and Fingal, and are proving just as devoted parents as Skye and Frisa did at Loch Frisa. Iona (the female), previously known as Green T because of her wing tag which she lost this winter, was reared on the Isle of Skye by her parents who were from the first release of Norwegian Sea Eagles on the Isle of Rum. After fledging in 1998, Iona was first seen on Mull in 2001. Fingal (the male) was part of a second release scheme and was brought over from Norway in 1997 with 9 other chicks. All 10 were released on Wester Ross. Fingal was originally known as Blue 6, but lost his tags in 2006. Following his early visits to Mull. he paired up with Iona in 2002. After a couple of false starts the pair finally fledged one chick in 2005, and have successfully fledged five chicks in total.

Our new set-up at Glen Seilisdeir is very different from Loch Frisa - we still have a wooden hide where visitors can listen to our introductory talk inside (if it's raining), and pick up leaflets, booklets and make any purchases. We then drive half a mile along the track to our viewpoint car park where we all carefully close car doors and make sure no car alarms have been set, before silently walking 100m to our viewpoint - an outdoor hide just 300m from the nest! As I write the eggs are just over three weeks through incubation, so in around two weeks we should spot the first food being brought in and tiny morsels gently fed to a tiny fluffy white chick. With luck a second chick will hatch a couple of days later.

Our "rustic" hide is a clearing in the forest, expertly prepared with a thick layer of wood-chip on the ground, shielded from the eagles' view with a screen of spruce prunings and set up with spotting scopes and binoculars so that all our visitors get the best possible view of the eagles. And what views they have been getting! We watch the adult birds taking turns at incubating the eggs, carefully rearranging sticks on the nest, and preening their loose white body feathers prior to going through their full moult. Iona usually does the night shift, with Fingal coming in to relieve her in the morning and then they take turns to incubate the precious egg(s) during the day.

Recently whilst Fingal was incubating he must have become a bit "peckish" because he suddenly took off and flew towards Loch Beg. Our hearts were in our mouths as there was no sign of Iona and the eggs would chill if they were left for long. We timed his absence and after just three minutes Fingal returned with a large fish, settled himself back on the nest and proceeded to eat his catch. He must have been able to see the fish from his position on the nest, and temptation must have got the better of him!

All our visitors are thorougly enjoying the experience, especially the "wild" hide where they can really feel at one with nature.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

New hide at Glen Seilisdeir is a hit!

We are certainly back! This is our second week at our new hide location at Glen Seilisdeir, the home to Blue 9 (male) and Green T (female), since 2002. Trips are proving very popular and the birds are being very well behaved. The eggs (not quite sure how many) have been laid and both birds and taking it in turns to tend to them lovingly.

The weather too has been quite kind over this Easter week, which makes life much more pleasant for the bird sitting on the nest. From their viewpoint high in the conifers they have a 360 degree view of Glen Sheilisdair (Glen of the Iris) and could not want from more scenic views from the nest site. With a backdrop over the tree tops to Ben More and views out to Loch Scridian and the Ross of Mull it is a fantastic location. Their location provides an ideal food source both for themselves and their future chicks, with the sea only a short distance to north and south and surrounded by moorland.

The whole trip experience is proving very popular with a short talk at the hide followed by a foray into the 'wild woods'. The location from where you see the nest is very much a woodland experience, it is almost like entering into a woodland den, the children just love it and it has real at one with nature feel.

To share in this wonderful experience, booking is essential. The bookings can be made at the Craignure Tourist Information Centre or on 01680812556. Ranger led trips run Monday to Friday 10 am and 1pm.

For those that have followed the blog in previous years Frisa and Skye are well and living quietly up Loch Frisa, but due to ongoing forest management they are both having 'time out' or as actors would say 'resting' but very much so getting on with family life, and we hope to be able to give you updates on how they are both doing as the season progresses.