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.