Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The chick is named! And a fond farewell...

On Thursday the 5th September I went to Tobermory School to visit the primary 6/7 class I had been working with in the early part of the year during the spring.

The teacher Richard Gawthrope helped me to facilitate the group and we had a slideshow on the chick’s progress and what happened during the season. I gave the children copies of the photographs and information sheet to keep.

They had been given homework the previous night to think about some names for the chick, so I had them work in pairs to come up with one name each.

The next part was funny as the children wanted to vote with their heads on the table so they could not see who else was voting for a secret ballot and they raised their hands if they wanted to vote…

The last two names were Rambo and Orion…

The reason for Rambo was “my dad watches these films” and the reason for Orion was “the birds are hunters and when you watch them fly so high they go up into the sky and disappear to the stars and the star sign for a hunter is Orion.”

We then had a secret paper vote which was opened up in front of staff and children…and Orion won!

The winner who picked the name was Mari - pictured at the front of the picture to the right. Well done Mari for an excellent well thought out name and thank you.

On Monday 9th September I did my last hide walk with a lovely group of people and guess who appeared just on cue…as we were walking back the newly-named juvenile Orion came out and flew over our heads, it was like a fly pass to me saying goodbye!

Tomorrow, I do my last Ranger event, a walk out around Lochbuie with John Clare the RSPB ranger who I have worked with for 6 months and I would like to personally thank him for all his help and support.

I would also like to say well done to Nicky Adcock that has come out on all, the ranger’s walks this season I have done and has supported me over many miles. We have seen some amazing wild life, flora and scenery. Nicky has taken some fantastic photographs and I look forward to seeing them in the winter.

I have met some wonderful extraordinary people at the hide; some very local who came over five times to the hide during the season, to people from abroad who have travelled many, many miles to see these wonderful birds.

I thank all of you that have come to see us at the hide. We have had an extra 700 visitors this year and I hope that many of you return next year to see these wonderful birds. (If you’ve visited in August and September, do return to Mull in the second week of May through to middle of July to see the most activity at the nest during springtime.)

On my journey to work and homeward bound I have seen much wildlife on the road, but last Friday I stopped on the way home to speak to some people who were looking out to sea. This is a favourite spot for seeing an otter. I stopped and went over and got told they were looking at five otters. I got the scopes out the back of the van and sure enough five otters all in one place fishing in the seaweed. Then I saw an amazing view which they had not seen themselves - a basking shark behind the otters swimming and feeding, what a sight! I call that “A  Platinum  Moment” one I shall cherish in my memory for life.

Have a good autumn, winter and stay safe wherever you travel.
I am off to a wedding soon to be a best women that’s a first for me.

Take care, kind regards thank you for following this blog.

Cheryl Callow
Seasonal Ranger

Monday, 26 August 2013

Fungi and forestry

Last week was a very busy week for me. The hide walks continue out to Loch Scridain and we often see the birds out the back, either on the mountains or in their favourite trees.

This recent photo shows Iona in the tree overlooking the Loch in the rain. I have often seen her back at the nest site in the tree there especially when it’s raining hard. August has seen rain most days, and it’s felt more like April.

I have noticed also there has been so much fungi around in the woods - some lovely macro photography to be had if you are keen on nature, like I am.

On Thursday we had a visit from the Forestry Commission and their senior managers who were looking at our hide and site to see in what way we could improve the signage and experience.
A lot was discussed, all for the better and I was very pleased to meet Louise who helps me with this blog!

On Friday, although it was very wet, I had a great day we saw the birds all day and the group of people that came were great fun and lovely people.
I love meeting all those who come from all over the world to this hide it such a great place to work.
Last week I also did a ranger event called Fun with Doggies which went very well in the local woods. Part of my job as a ranger is that I have to do about 15 events through the summer on other subjects and in the north part of the island.

Next week is my last day at the hide. My contract ends then, and John Clare from the RSPB will be about for another three weeks.

If you want to visit the hide please make sure you book as some days we are not open all the time so I do not want you to have wasted journey, call us on 01680 812556.

Until next time, have a good week. I am off for a photography ranger walk this afternoon…

Thursday, 22 August 2013

A busy week on Mull

This week we have seen Iona a couple of times up on the hill, but we have had a lot of rain over the last ten days. It has become harder spotting the birds, but they are about and some days we have some great views - just like the picture below with Fingal sitting in a tree.

 Today I am off doing a bird of prey walk down at Loch Frisa at the old hide to see what we can find with about 14 people, should be good fun and interesting. The naming of the juvenile will now be on 5th September at Tobermory School and I am revisiting the class I met earlier in the year, really looking forward to it. John and I will spend the afternoon together today, writing up the final report for the steering group meeting at the end of the season. In my next entry I’ll be looking back reviewing the season and all the people who called in to see us at the eagle hide…until then keep safe!

Blog published by Louise Boyd on behalf of Cheryl Callow, Mull Ranger

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Juvenile is doing well

The day started with seeing Iona back on the nest and I had not seen her  for 10 days, so it was so good to see her again.

The juvenile bird has been seen many times this week flying about the side of the hill and mountain .

Today we saw the juvenile flying about, and it came out and roosted on a tree that was dead.

The bird was there until a buzzard flew over with its young juvenile bird. The buzzard has  also been out  practising this week flying and hunting over the local fields.

Today I was joined by the two Doreen's as my assistant rangers in my van, we followed the large group around just behind them.

The walk is along the track past the nest and out the other side over looking the Loch where the male bird Fingal hunts.

The two Doreen's were very lucky as they saw the birds in good views followed up by the golden eagle with its juvenile.

The larger group also saw eagles flying in the distance.

As we were standing on the track,  we noticed what look like a small vole but as I got up close you could see it was a shrew. I called John Clare the RSPB Ranger over and he told us it was a pigmy shrew - quite unusual, another golden moment for the groups.

I took the two Doreen's back to the reception hide, where I finished off the talk and tour with them.

When I got back I was greeted by Mark and his wife who had visited  the hide earlier in the year. He is a very keen photographer and is a judge on the Country File Calendar Competition, he’s a very generous man and always willing to share his pictures and photography knowledge. I stopped to have a chat with him about the eagles and wildlife on the island. I took them both back up the path near to the waterfall in case the birds were about, but sadly they had gone ...

If you are considering coming on the trips, remember you need to be able to walk about a mile out and a mile back to the reception hide over a two hour period. You also need to wear sturdy shoes and have a coat incase we get a shower or two.

Trips leave at 10am or 1pm each day, but we are not there on Thursday 8th August as we are both at the Salen show on Mull. 

Written by the Mull Ranger

Monday, 29 July 2013

The chick has fledged...

Last Saturday morning the chick fledged from the nest, and there have been reported sightings of it on top of the tree and it’s been heard calling in the local fields and woodlands.

John the RSPB ranger heard it on Monday and Tuesday. Today we heard the chick on our morning trip but did not hear it or see it on the afternoon trip…

Iona has been seen on the nest tree on Monday of this week.

We are still open but we have changed how we do things by walking out and looking for the birds but sticking to the footpaths. We are still giving the talks about the WTE and showing some of the pictures from this season, if you want to join us we travel out at 10am and 1pm the tours are about 2 hours long.

Please remember to book, and call ahead for opening times. We are not open this Friday 2nd August or Thursday 8th August due to the local shows that are on. We will have a stand at both shows Bunessan and Salen so do pop in and see us.

This was the last picture I took of the chick on Friday 26th July 2013, enjoy ….

Written by the Mull Ranger

Monday, 22 July 2013

Our chick is desperate to get up in the air!

We have had a mixed week of weather from sunshine to mist to rain and the chick has sat through all of this and at the same time wings flapping like mad !

During this week there has been a very International flavour at the hide with visitors from Wisconsin USA, Australia and families from from Austria & Germany.

Our male bird Fingal has been around a lot more this week flying in with food at regular intervals. Many small gosling have been eaten and often the nest if covered with white fluff and feathers! When Fingal lands on the nest, its like a hover craft coming in and blowing all the feathers up in the air, a sight to behold!

Iona watches over her chick at the nest
Iona watches over her chick at the nest

Iona has been sitting on the branch very close to the chick, to the right as you look at the nest. On Thursday, she sat there for five hours without flying off!

The hide will be open all summer until the end of August as the chick will stay in the area and they often come back on the nest for about a month, so please still come and see us.

Once the chick has fledged we will walk you through the Glen to observe all three birds.
Booking is a must and can be done by calling 01680 812556 or visit forestry.gov.uk/mullseaeagles for more info.

Blog published by Colin Baxter on behalf of Cheryl Callow, Mull Ranger

Monday, 15 July 2013

Glorious weather on Mull - great for eagle viewing trips!

Parents and chick all at the nest together
Parents and chick all at the nest together
I returned from a few days off to find the chick nearly fully grown. It is very big  and beautiful.

There is much wing flapping and many poo’s over the side of the nest! John and I have gasped many times when she does this and we think we should have safety around the top of the nest next year!

In the early part of the week all three birds were on the nest, a rare sight.

We have had some wonderful guest to the hide including wild life.I was helping an elderly couple view the Eagles near the hide with their daughter when a dragon fly came down and landed on my brand new van.

The colour of it against my very clean van stood out. It was a golden moment we both stood still and took pictures and marvelled at nature and its beauty.

The weather has been excellent with wall to wall sunshine, but in the morning we have been having a sea mist. The same day I was at the hide with the elderly couple and the dragon fly, I had to go off for five minutes to check some mist/smoke that was rolling in. It was sea mist and when I drove down the drive away from the hide it had  dropped 6 degrees in temperature.

The next day we had a group of gentlemen from Israel visit us. Also in the group were Lyn and her mum Dorothy. During this visit, a parent bird came in with a large object. Dorothy asked to see the back play on one of the Isreali gentlemen's cameras and we all saw it was a large fish they had brought into the nest which the chick eat straight away…. Great shot, great timing .. thank you Dorothy for asking ……

It was a small group that day, but plenty of questions were asked, whilst there was lots of camera activity, which was so fast it sounded like ticker tape off the old teleprinter machines , if you remember them !!!

I met Lyn and her mum again yesterday on my ranger walk at Calgary where I had 22 people. It was a stunning day of weather and we had great fun.
Well I must go to the hide. John is off today and I am on my own so I will have some private moments with the chick on the nest to cherish. What a privileged job I have helping the public see this rare bird , speak soon……

If you have not visited us yet, or your back on the Island do come and see us, we run trips at 10am or 1pm. If you are passing at these times and you have not booked, just check with us at the lower car park.

To book please phone 01680812556. Just to note, we are at the South of the Island at Glen Seilisdeir and not at Loch Frisa as in year's previous.

Blog published by Colin Baxter on behalf of Mull Ranger Cheryl Callow.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Back to work to find our chick almost full size!

Mull eagle chick at almost 10 weeks
Friday’s chick is now in it's 10th week of life as I return to work after a few days off to catch up with Mull life.

This week I have returned to find that the chick has grown even more and looks full size!

We are still waiting to find out what gender the chick is and hope to hear soon.

The weather this week is outstanding, so hot with bright sunshine.

As I came to work this morning, there was a wonderful mist over the Glen from Dervaig. It was stunning, a landscape photographer's dream.

If you are visiting the island in the next month please do visit the hide.

Book now or if you are passing the south of the island do pop in and ask…..
The trips go at 10am in the morning and the next tour is at 1pm to make sure people coming over on the ferries for day trips can link in. It’s a guided walk of two hours. Call on 01680 812556 or pop in to the Visitor’s centre at Craignure as you get off the ferry and book your place!

Blog published by Colin Baxter on behalf of Mull Ranger Cheryl Callow

Friday, 5 July 2013

Our chick is nine weeks old today!

The chick is nine weeks today and is growing very fast.
It’s been amazing to watch the female Iona, who has been bringing in afterbirth from seals.
I have now seen this three times, it’s been a bit messy and Iona’s tail has been blood red instead of white!
The chick has been eating it very much like a piece of elastic at times, pulling up on stringy pieces of flesh like material.

I spent a private half hour on Friday on my own at the end last week, watching this wonderful sight. The feathers of the chick were drying out, after a morning of rain, and then sea mist. The feathers were just fluttering, in the slight breeze, so delicate to watch.

Our growing chick flapping
Our growing chick flapping
it's wings

The sharp beak is working well, and the chick is feeding itself. I realised that I have become very fond and very attached to this wonderful chick. What an honour it is to be able to watch this beautiful bird grow up.
My heart is in my mouth every time it flaps it's wings, building up its strength. It tends to move to the back of the nest and very close to the edge, if it was to fall out now it may not survive and could spell disaster!

I have got to say the groups that have been in the last week have seen some great views of the wings flapping. I am keeping my wings crossed that when I return from my holiday the wee young bird I have given the name 'Friday’s Chick’ will be safe and well. The chick will be named formally soon by a local school.
We are still waiting to hear what gender it is.

I thank every one who has visited us so far this season and thank you for all your emails, blog comments and trip advisor entries.

Please keep coming to see this wonderful chick and parents. John Clare ,the RSPB Ranger will be there ready for you. He likes chocolate and do laugh at his beak joke!
Bye for now Cheryl back on Monday 8th July 2013.
To book now please phone on 01680 812556

Blog published by Colin Baxter on behalf of Mull Ranger Cheryl Callow

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Busy times at the Mull Eagle Hide - our chick is growing up fast!

The chick is now 54 days and growing so fast! It is being well fed by its parents and since last week we have seen small goslings, a grey bird very much like a gull and today a bloody mass which looked like a placenta of an animal brought in to the nest.

The chick is very vocal now and will soon let you know when a parent bird is coming into the nest by its calling and looking up and around.

The nest itself has had some extra layers added but you can see at times the heat haze coming off the top and the flies from the dead bodies in the nest.

The wings have filled out now and there is much flapping happening. I just cannot get over the size of growth, come and see for yourself!

We has a large number of visitors last week, with several families returning to Mull to enjoy the wealth of wildlife. The weather has also been kind to us which always helps!

Great picture taking by one of our visitors Peter
Great picture taking by one of our visitors Peter
 We have had several couples that come back up to the hide three to four times a week to observe and take photographs. We had one such couple Sharon and Darren, who were a delight to have in the hide and we really enjoyed their company.

Another couple, Peter and Monica, were also excellent company and provided wonderful fudge on their  visit! They sent in some wonderful pictures too , thank you to both couples for your kindness.

Picture of Iona taken by Matthew Syratt
Picture of Iona taken by Matthew Syratt

We also had a lovely family who brought their daughter and granddaughter Chloe to the hide. She was treated to activity sheets and things to do during her visit. It is so lovely when parents bring the next generation to the hide and I thank Chloe's father Matthew for a great picture of Iona sitting out proud watching over her chick ...

On Monday we had Dervaig Primary school come to the hide. We had a great morning viewing the birds and I did a talk on some basic facts before RSPB ranger John escorted them to the forest hide. The feedback from the head teacher is that it was the best visit ever to the hide in all the years they have been taking the children. 

Dervaig school children visit Mull Eagle Watch
Dervaig school children visit Mull Eagle Watch

Just a reminder, that residents of Mull can visit the hide free. So call us to arrange your visit to this wonderful wildlife experience right on your doorstep!

With the Scottish school holidays starting at the end of the week, a trip to Mull may part of your plans, so don't foget to give us a visit. Call us to book on 01680 812556.

We look forward to seeing you!

Blog published by Colin Baxter on behalf of Mull Ranger Cheryl Callow

Friday, 21 June 2013

A visit from Radio 4 as we witness our growing chick

Last Friday the chick was growing at such a fast rate that all of a sudden wings appeared and they started to flap! I managed to catch this on camera whilst Iona looked on. I was amazed by the length of wings and the fine skeletal vision through the scope.
The new chick flaps it's wings as Iona looks on
The new chick flaps it's wings as Iona looks on

The chick is now about 43 days old and being well fed by the parent birds. I have recently seen two shag brought to the nest with several other sea birds and fish . So far this season I have only seen two lambs in the nest.

After the ringing of the chick, the parent birds take it in turns to guard it, perching on a tree at close distance .

On Monday, we had a wonderful day with the children of Lochdonhead school coming to visit us, with the Head Teacher and three other members of staff . Some of the children and staff had not seen a White Tailed Eagle before.

Alongside this visit, we had Yvonne Slater visiting us from Radio 4 who was recording the event and the children's reactions to what they were seeing . We spent about an hour at the forest hide, enjoying the questions asked by the children, whilst John Clare and myself  gave them some interesting facts about the eagles, which the children enjoyed. The School staff were as excited as the children at what they saw and remarked on the size of this large chick with a white fluffy crown and a large beak.

When we came out of the hide to head back along the track, one of the parent birds flew over with its majestic white tail and head.  I saw its under carriage come down ( my technical talk ), with the massive talons and land with ease on a tree behind the hide.

The children were excited and gather round making noises of enjoyment and laughter whilst the teachers took the binoculars and focused in quickly. The staff were taken a back with what they had seen and a resounding wow!! came from our group .

Radio 4's Yvonne Slater with RSPB Ranger John Clare
Radio 4's Yvonne Slater with RSPB Ranger John Clare
At this point I was looking at Yvonne who had the big grey fluffy radio microphone boom. This was now wobbling as she too got so excited. I spoke to her afterwards and you could see from her eyes the emotional connection to these special birds. One of the school staff , who has lived on Mull for many years, commented that they had never seen a White Tailed Eagle, and today they got their wish!
The radio programme goes out later in the year I let you know when it's on ...

Monday afternoon brought a large group of 31 people to the hide. They saw the chick sleep, then wake up to stretch its wings. The adult birds were out of sight although we could hear them calling.

New hide discovered on Mull
New hide discovered on Mull

The next day I was off on a Ranger walk north of the island where 14 very keen people joined me for a fantastic day.  During the trip, I found a new hide to watch the eagles and otters from ...

Back to the office today looking out at Ben More, John Clare and the wonderful chick , speak soon .....

To book a trip to The Eagle Hide please call in advance on 01680 812556

The blog is published by Colin Baxter on behalf of Mull Ranger Cheryl Callow

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Mull is in bloom as our eagle chick grows

Our chick is growing up
Our chick is growing up

After this weekend I returned to the hide to find the chick had grown another two inches and the nest had a new dead sea bird in it . The grey fluffy chick from last week was now darker in colour and looking more like a bird.

The activity on Monday afternoon after the public had gone home was interesting as both parent birds were calling out and in the background I could hear the mew of the buzzard that was flying close to the nest. At one stage it reminded me of being a young girl at London zoo, the noise was immense.

Yellow flag on Mull
Yellow flag on Mull

The island has blossomed into the most wonderful colour as bluebells, yellow flag and iris’ are all out in bloom.

Its an amazing burst of colour that has happened in the last week. I spotted a yellow flag over looking Inch Kenneth as pictured.

Bluebells on Mull
Bluebells on Mull

We had some very good news that John Clare the RSPB ranger and myself,  passed our recent 'mystery shopper' examination who had visited during May bank holiday week.
Some questions and comments from the visit below -

Q Did a member of staff go out of their way to enhance the visit for you or another visitor ?

A "Both Cheryl and John were superb. They had passion for the site and were able to provide information either in answer to questions or as part of the tour. Both were outstanding in dealing with children."

We got 100 percent for staff service, skills and image.

Q One thing that could have improved this visit ?

A "Genuinely there was nothing that could have improved my visit."
So with that recommendation please come along and visit us!

Book ahead to avoid disappointment - www.forestry.gov.uk/mullseaeagles

Blogs posted by Colin Baxter on behalf of Mull Ranger, Cheryl Callow

Friday, 7 June 2013

Our new chick is ringed in the nest

It's been a very eventful week with the chick being checked and ringed in the nest on Wednesday 5th June .

A team arrived of Forest Commission and RSPB staff came to ring the chick in the nest . The parent birds were not on the nest as the chick is much bigger at about 18 inches tall and grey in colour.

Staff at the nest checking and ringing the chick
Staff at the nest checking and ringing the chick

The public group in attendance had the most marvellous morning witnessing this rare event .

There were three main tree climbers who made their way to the tree and two entered the nest . The chick went very flat and stayed still . The nest was also checked for food. It was full of sea birds and fish .
The chick was measured, ringed and a salvia swab taken for genetic checking .
After the team had completed their task they left a dead rabbit in the nest and came down .
It took an hour for Iona to come back to her chick . The parents made no noise or calling whilst this process was going on .

Chick in the nest after ringing
Chick in the nest after ringing

In the hide, James, the Forest Commission Wildlife Officer gave an explanation to the group as to what was going on.

Later we were joined by David Sexton the RSPB Manager who also came into the hide to explain what would happen afterwards and notified the group that initial thoughts are that it could be a female chick but this will need clarification.

Such a great day and experience , one I shall always remember, a golden moment for me.

Blogs published by Colin Baxter on behalf of Mull Ranger Cheryl Callow.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Visitors from far and wide this week as our new chick continues to progress well

We have had a very exciting week so much has gone on ...

Iona and Fingal nurturing their young chick which is three weeks old , the chick is standing about 18 inches
Iona with her new chick
Iona with her new chick
covered with white downy fluff soon to be feathers.
Iona has been spending more time off the nest but in a tree near by not far away to protect the chick .
Fingal disappeared for two days but came back and was seen on Tuesday afternoon.

The food larder has reduced around the nest this week and so we have had good views of the chick this week.

Most of the food has been sea birds and fish we have had one lamb since we started on March 20th 2013. This came in over two weeks ago and there are still remnants of it on the nest.

I have noticed in the last two weeks several people revisiting us that came in March. It is excellent to see people coming back to this magical Island and seeing the wonderful views of the majestic birds.

We have had some excellent feed back again this week and I love working with John Clare the RSPB ranger who is very knowledgeable , I bring to the group my wealth of experience of visiting this island for 22 yrs and now living here permanently, having bought our house nine years ago.

John and I have been working hard on upgrading our Silver Green Tourism award  to Gold.  We have made a few changes to the site and also added such things as recycling rain water, cycle-stand made by recycled wood, green tourism feedback and suggestion box and a wind up torch. Not that we need it at the moment as its so light up here! 

During the week we have had people from America , Germany and Norway.
The German couple were late over due to ferry delays and arrived when we had just finished, so I took them down to the hide and they had their own private viewing. We had a wonderful time .
We also had another German gentleman who saw a black stork at Dervaig which he regularly sees in his home country.

On Wednesday the old nest Icthy and Scratchy arrived from Loch Frisa. This was the nest that was filmed by Simon King for Springwatch. It has many different memories for previous staff that worked at the hide and the public, who like myself, watched every programme religiously, in awe of these wonderful rare birds..

I will be using it as a demonstration piece to the groups and school children who are soon to visit .

Norwegian visitors to the Mull wildlife hide
Norwegian visitors to the Mull wildlife hide

We have had many visitors to the hide this week and the weather has been brilliant , so come and see us .

On Friday we had a group of Norwegian people visit. The group were from an organisation who organise wildlife trips, so they were interested in the running of the hide. They were particularly interested in the things that go on behind the scenes to make it work and of course the history of the birds, since the reintroduction programme was helped by Norway, providing the young chicks and the start of them living back on the Isle of Mull.
 I took a day off and managed to get a picture of that rare bird the corncrake so I have included it as I know many of you are serious about your birds!
Corncake on Mull
Corncake on Mull
A recent comment left by a visitor said "that is the best £6 I have spent on this island this week , the birds were fantastic,  great views and very helpful knowledgable guides in John and Cheryl."

So don't miss out, come and see us soon ... 01680 812556

You can also comment via Trip advisor, we welcome your feedback.

Blogs posted by Colin Baxter on behalf of Mull Ranger Cheryl Callow

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Our chick is doing well, whilst other wildlife make an appearance

The weather has greatly improved here on Mull and the single chick has grown to about 18 inches tall , very white and fluffy and can be seen from behind the food larder on the nest.

The female bird Iona is often sitting in the tree above the nest looking down on the chick and taking time out herself. The chick is regularly fed from the dead carrion, very delicately by Iona pulling off small pieces of meat from the bird carcasses and fish.

White tailed eagle with raven intruder
White tailed eagle with raven intruder
We have not seen the ravens like we did previously which caused concern for her and us all last week.

I reported that a grey and white bird that flew through the nest was confirmed as an osprey and it was with great delight that Alison Palmer who had visited the hide and drove off round Loch Scridain after leaving the hide had a very close view of it flying near this loch and being very adjacent to an oystercatcher, great photos Alison and a big thank young.

Osprey and oyster catcher over Loch Scridain
Osprey and oyster catcher over Loch Scridain - by Alison Palmer 

Also on Loch Scridain we have had many reported sightings of otters and was true for too for Alison too, another great shot.

Otter in the water at Loch Scridain
Otter in the water at Loch Scridain - by Alison Palmer

This is a magical island and if you love wildlife and photography then come to Mull and visit us at the hide.

five star wildlife experince we are in demand, so don't delay, make your booking on 01680 812556.

In the first week of June we hope to be ringing the young chick and also taking a genetic saliva test for future reference.

The concern about wildlife has been taken by a Wildlife Stock just published on 22nd may 2013 and we must all do our bit to keep our species healthy, the five partners on the Isle of Mull come together to protect the white tailed sea eagles and other wildlife.

We are part of The Green Tourism Award and I will be blogging shortly on what that means for us and how you can help us with our award, we hold a silver award at present and hope to improve on that.

I hope you have been watching The Herbride's on BBC Scotland which you can still get it on iplayer. Last Monday's programme showed the nest from Glen Seilisdeir and the birds ,Iona and Fingal, were at the forefront of the programme, such great photography, do watch if you missed it.

The groups of people visiting us this week has been on average about 25 and we have managed to get most people in the hide to get some great shots on smartphones, digiscoping and many other cameras of all shapes and sizes.  

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

An abundance of wildlife in and around the hide

White tailed eagle nest on Mull
After a weekend of rain, the week started with yet more and the concern that the only chick had survived the conditions.

The beginning of the week saw Iona staying on the nest and Fingal bringing in sea birds as the main food source .

In the nest we saw Fulmars , Gulls and a female Eider duck stored around the nest edge .

From behind the food larder we could see one small wee fluffy white head popping up now and again. With the male bird keeping guard .

The road to work was very dramatic and at Gribun it has been spectacular with the clouds rolling in .

The reception hide has seen numerous siskins on the feeders in their bright colours . We are still waiting to capture a photograph of the Scottish crossbill .

Otters on Mull
Otters on Mull

The wood itself has some amazing views in both directions. On the walk to the west and then also, off to the east along a track, affording a view high up where there has been a new track established which shows the forest to us all .

Around the Loch nearby there have been sightings of short eared owls and otters captured by John Clare the RSPB ranger .

On Thursday we had the George Watson College attend the hide and they had a wonderful visit that included building the WTE nest demonstrated in the photograph attached - well done and come back soon .

Constructed white tailed eagle nest
Constructed white tailed eagle nest

Monday, 13 May 2013

Mull - a bird spotters paradise and maybe another chick?

Last week started off with thoughts of possibly two chicks in the nest. Monday brought heavy rain and Iona sat on her nest for most of the day protecting her brood. Tuesday came bringing sunshine and we were able to see the head of one small chick.

Iona at the nest with chich just visible behind
Iona at the nest with chich just visible behind

 I was able to take some photos of both Iona and Fingal on the nest, which is now becoming full of various carrion such as Gull, Fulmar and rabbits. This pair of WTE are known for taking sea birds based on previous research when cleaning up and analysing the content of the nest at the end of last season.
On Wednesday we had mixed weather and had large groups at the hide, who were treated to some action in the afternoon, when what was described as a grey bird flew in past the nest.

Rainbow over Loch Na Keal
Rainbow over Loch Na Keal

The nearby Ravens were also making a lot of noise. I went off for 10 mins to go and see what was going on. I saw a large bird sitting off down the Glen towards Loch Scridain but could not identify it.

I came back and reported this to the group and John Clare the RSPB ranger. Later that day four very keen gentlemen birders left the hide and subsequently reported seeing an Osprey on Loch Scridain. Ospreys are infrequent visitors to Mull so this was a great spot!
Thursday continued with yet more well attended groups including some new honeymooner's - we have had seven couples now so far this season.

On the way to work yesterday I saw a wonderful rainbow over Loch Na Keal and on the way home, I caught up with the four gentlemen who had spotted the Osprey on Wednesday. On this occasion they were watching three Golden Eagles over Ben More. They reported seeing so much wonderful wildlife during their week on the island and this was now their fourth consecutive year visiting Mull.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

First two chicks make an appearance on Mull!

Iona and Fingal at the nest
Iona and Fingal at the nest - by Claire Hammond
 The first chick hatched to Fingal and Iona on Friday 3rd May witnessed in pouring rain by John Clare the RSPB ranger .

The second chick hatched on Sunday 5th May, again witnessed by John Clare as he went  to check on the white tailed sea eagles over the weekend as it has been so wet.

Yesterday it rained all day and we arrived to find both Iona and Fingal on the nest eating some carrion that had been brought into the nest.

The female bird at different times has got up and moved around removing the rain from her body with a quick shake down and then back on the nest keeping the chicks protected.

Fingal flew off about 10.45 am and had not come back when we left at 3pm yesterday. Thankfully, the weather had justed started  to clear a little. I did hear him calling to her about 2pm when the public were in the hide so he was not far away.

We wish for some dry weather to give these chicks a chance this week .
No pics as yet but we hope to have some for the next update later this week....

Friday, 3 May 2013

It's a waiting game for the appearance of eagle chicks here on Mull

This week has been a very quiet week at the hide and we are playing the waiting game .

Our eggs are due to hatch any time now and everytime the adult bird on duty stands up on the nest we are waiting to see if the chicks have hatched!

The weather this week has been very mixed and the last three days have seen heavy showers and the temperature dropping to 4C which is quite cold.

The adults seem to be just turning the eggs and settling down to incubate again. Eggs can easily take 36 hours to hatch so we must all be patient and wait and see. John and i will be watching for any change in behaviour around the adults.

Last year the Mull Sea Eagles successfully fledged 19 eagle chicks with a total of 60 on the west Coast of scotland.

Our view from the hide is from the forest directly in front of the nest at a safe distance so as not to disturb the birds. Within the hide you get some excellent views of the nest and you feel close to nature, with the smell of the pine and clean air. It give you the ambiance of being close to the Eagles. The shaded area of the hide that you look out from gives great protection from disturbing them.

Some of our visitors in the hide
Some of our visitors in the hide

As you look out at this enormous nest you cannot help but feel privelaged to witness a very rare bird that has been reintroduced successfully into it's natural habitat.

Occassionally we hear the call of the male eagle Fingal as he does a fly past just before a change over on the nest or whilst roosting on a tree near by.

Iona the female eagle often looks up to the sky, with that beautiful large golden eye, keeping a check on Fingal and any one else close to the nest.

This week we have not seen any extra birds brave enough to fly into the nest like last week!

I hope to have some good news for you all next week on our eggs/chicks. Finger crossed for a good weekend.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Visitors from far and wide, come to visit the Eagle Hide!

Easter week came and went bringing with it many visitors to The Eagle Hide. During this time, Fingal and Iona have been keeping their eggs incubated and whilst doing so, have witnessed a number of visitors to their tree! These brave birds have included a Great Spotted Woodpecker which flew in and landed right on the top of the tree, a Hoodie on a fleeting visit and then last Friday, a Siskin even perched right on the edge of the nest. Our eagles were very tolerant and just sat there, appearing to admire the incomer.

The week after Easter we had visit from a lovely family from Conneticut in the USA. Their parents had lived on the Isle of Mull, Mark and Fiona Eden-Bushell, whose daughters were former pupils at Bunessan School.

U.S visitors to the Mull Eagle Hide
Our U.S visitors with Mull roots
  One of the daughters was named after the island of Iona and was with Marie, Jason and Calum. The other family members were Lucetta, Angus, Maggie and Grant.

They brought with them good weather on the day of their visit and it was lovely to see young people thoroughly enjoying their roots and heritage. Thank you for visiting us at the Hide and I hope I got all of the names correct!

The following week brought in plenty of rain and wind. I was a little worried about Iona on the nest but she sat right through the hard weather, determined to keeping those eggs protected and warm.
We had yet more great people at the Hide despite the conditions and Stu Darby was very helpful, sending me some lovely photos of the ‘changeover’ during the week of 15th April.

The changeover. Image by Stu Darby
The changeover. Image by Stu Darby
 This was when Fingal flew in and the pair did some very careful manoeuvring around the nest with their talons turned in so as not to damage the eggs. This is always a very delicate operation and just amazing to watch.

During the week of the 22nd April some agricultural students, a group of Scottish Forest Rangers and Laurie Campbell, a Wildlife Photographer, visited us. It was a delight to meet all these wonderful people and to exchange wildlife tips, information, experiences and stories. The agricultural students were particularly complimentary about the Eagle Hide and staff.  

Iona and Fingal at the nest.
Iona and Fingal at the nest.
Image by agricultural student Claire Holland
 I was privileged again to see another changeover whilst on my own on Thursday and just before the group in the afternoon arrived.

On Friday a young couple, on holiday from Northern Ireland returned for their second visit of their stay and were lucky enough to share their morning with Laurie Campbell. He was there specifically to photograph the Eagles and the people visiting, for an article he had been commissioned to do in relation to Camper vans. What an honour to have him in the Hide.

I got plenty of tips about wildlife photography and he proved to be a very caring, sharing person who was clearly a consummate professional.
His patience and determination were second to none and both John and I left him on site mid afternoon on a cold grey day, sitting tight and prepared to wait for his shot until early evening. The Eagles had changed over with the male hunkered down and as I made my way back to the office, I saw the female flying out over the woods.

What will the week of 29th April bring? If you are coming to the Isle of Mull please come and find us.

Call us on 01680 812556 to avoid disappointment. We look forward to seeing you!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Visitors young and old enjoy spectacular eagle sightings at our wildlife hide

Sea Eagle courtesy of Mark Blake Nottinghamwildlife.comIn the first three weeks of the season, glorious weather has helped give visitors spectacular views of the nest and birds, from the viewing area that enables a close encounter with these majestic creatures. 

Positioned amongst the trees, the viewing area allows clear sightings, while providing enough cover to prevent disturbance of the nesting birds. 

Numerous people, varying in age from young children to people in their eighties, have watched the birds. There have already been visits by three honeymoon couples, our local MP, and the Environment Minister who presented a £ 6,261 cheque to Mull and Iona community groups, comprising the money raised from Mull Eagle Watch in 2012.  This brings the total to well over £ 50,000.

Many excellent photographs have been taken and reactions and feedback from all the visitors has been tremendous, with one man in his 60’s, who has been trying unsuccessfully to see an eagle for over 20 years, in tears.  Memorable moments so far have included the interaction of both adult birds on the nest with much rearrangement of nest material and calling. 

The presence in the sky above the nest for a short while of an ‘intruder’ white-tailed eagle juvenile from the east coast of Scotland also lead to much vocalisation, while the arrival at speed of a female sparrowhawk in the viewing area almost lead to agitation of a different kind.  Other highlights included close views of a treecreeper’s antics delicately picking insects from adjacent tree trunks above visitors heads and regular visits of a friendly robin, which kept everyone entertained.

All is looking well for an excellent season and we hope to post a range of images taken at the hide this year over the course of the next few months.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Our Eagles and other wildlife enjoy Mull's great Easter weather

Mull White Tailed Eagles
The weather this Easter week has been fantastic on the Isle of Mull. Iona, the hen bird has been busy sitting on her eggs in the warmth of the sun incubating. Fingal the male has been busy too, making sure the nest is kept fresh with larch and melina (white hill) grass .

He has also been bringing in food for his mate, in the form of large fish and small mammals each day.
There have been several change overs which we have witness at the hide with Iona going off to have a break and feed herself.
Our visitors have been treated to a number of great sightings and yesterday afternoon they witnessed Fingal on the nest calling out for Iona. This was a new noise to many of the children and adults visiting the hide, who had never heard eagle conversation before.

We have also had the delight of a visiting sparrowhawk at our woodland hide, who boldly flies through the hide to the amazement of our visitors! Other visiting wildlife include a small robin at the hide who greets us on a daily basis, whilst we are keeping our eyes peeled for the Scottish Crossbill that is resident in these woods too but no sightings as yet.

Other birds of interest are the local buzzards ,who nest near by and the regular female hen harrier who cleared all of  the chaffinches off the feeders at the reception hide on Tuesday with ease. The male chaffinches are in abundance too on the spruce tree on the feeders in their bright red colour, just like Christmas baubles.

The weather for the week is looking very good so if you are planning a visit to Mull, don't forget to book a trip to the Eagle Hide.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Mull Eagle Hide now open for 2013

Our first visitors of 2013 ready to enjoy their trip to the
Our first visitors of 2013 ready to enjoy their trip to the
eagle hide at Glen Seilisdeir 

The wait is finally over and the Eagle Hide on Mull is now open for the 2013 season.

The first visitors arrived on Monday 25th March and were joined by John Clare, the RSPB Ranger and Cheryl Callow, the Seasonal Ranger for the island.

The weather has been kind to Mull over the last year and although it has been cold we have not had the weather that has hit the Isle of Arran and Ireland.

Bookings to visit the hide are a must and you can reserve your place by calling 01680 812556. The trips will  run daily from Easter weekend to October and last approximately 2 hours, subject to availability.

Costs are Adults £6 (including RSPB members), under 16’s £3. Trips to permanent Mull residents are free.

Both Fingal  and Iona the resident White Tailed Sea Eagles are ready and waiting to greet you at the nest.

We look forward to welcoming you to Mull.