Friday, 13 July 2012

Quiet day at the hide

An unusually quiet day at the hide today.  We arrived to be told by a visiting film crew that the adult bird had brought in a rabbit early in the morning - the crew were just leaving as they had captured all the action they wanted!  Sprawled on the nest were two very full young eagles and no sign of the rabbit, so they must have demolished the lot very quickly before settling down for what turned out to be a very long sleep!

Our morning trip went into the hide and watched the chicks sleeping, occasionally stretching, and once or twice our larger bird even stood up, stomped around and then went back to sleep.  In desperation I walked a bit further along the track and came across the adult female engaged in a battle with the local Buzzard - she must have got too close to its nest and was being well and truly mobbed.  It eventually chased her out of the area, but unfortunately by the time I'd got back to the hide she had disappeared and no-one had seen her. 

The same happened in the afternoon, although the chicks were a little more active and gave our visitors some good views of their enormous wingspans.  The larger chick even had a jump around and flapped its wings, but there was still no sign of the adults.  As the chicks are getting so close to fledging its likely that the adult birds are bringing in less food now so the young birds are beginning to get the message that it's time to fledge.  Of course parent birds won't let them starve, and when the first chick does leave the adults will continue to feed the second one at the nest whilst also feeding the newly fledged youngster on the ground and in the lower branches of the trees.  We will probably see more of the adults at that time as they will feel the need to protect the vulnerable "chick" on the ground.  Humans are their only real predator, but having put so much effort into rearing their offspring the adult birds will want to make sure they fledge successfully. 

It's about this time of year that we get the occasional 'phone call from concerned visitors who see the chicks on the ground and are worried that they have injured a leg.  Of course we always check out any reports, but young eagles appear very ungainly when they walk - developing a "John Wayne"-like gait, and they are usually fine.

It seems that the road along the west coast of the island, which was closed due to a massive storm which took out bridges and caused landslides, may well be open sooner than we expected.  If you are coming to the hide please call our booking office on 01680 812556 to check if that route is open.

Finally, to anyone who has called or emailed me concerned about the Golden Eagle family in the area of the landslide, I am told that they are all fine and the chick(s) are now fledged.  Great to be able to pass on some good news!

I wonder if our chicks will still be on the nest on Monday.  Time will tell!

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