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 -

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.