Mull Eagle Watch re-opened for the season this week, with our first visitors on Monday, after the previous week of preparations. We spent time getting the hide ready and full of information with examples of tags, pellets, leg rings, feathers…and even some stuffed birds! There was a spot of tidying up to do after some recent renovations, and we also had to wait while Iona and Fingal decided on a nest site.
The feathered pair were seen near the nest site they have used for the past few years, with some mating and both birds appeared to be using the tree as a roost site. But they were regularly seen on the other side of the glen too – on a different site where they also used to nest, although we know that this nest itself no longer exists. The question was…where had they built their new nest?
We waited impatiently, with John our RSPB Information Officer spending a lot of time following the birds and carefully watching their activities. White-tailed eagles are usually very faithful to their own laying date. For Iona and Fingal last year this was the 26th March. But this date came and went without event. Thankfully by Friday 28th Iona had decided she was happy and settled into a brand new nest site across the glen to lay her first egg. Luckily we have good views of the new nest site from the hide itself and we also have a shelter slightly further down the track to give two viewing points.
The nest is further away than previous years, but we have great cinematic and picturesque views of the whole glen, including the stunning peak of Ben More, the island’s only munro. This gives us a better opportunity to see the birds in flight around the nest site, along with other birds including golden eagles, buzzards, hen harriers and much more. We provide telescopes and binoculars to help our visitors spot them and we will also have a camera up and running soon too. Another bonus is the new nest site may be much safer for the chicks, with a more sheltered position from inclement weather. Last year’s nest had dealt with some strong winds and rain and had looked rather precarious over the winter.
This week we had some great views with our first few groups of visitors. Iona and Fingal are sharing incubation, so we witnessed some changeovers, during which Iona perched nearby in a favourite tree, enjoying her time off the nest to preen. Of course we had lots of other wildlife too, including spectacular views of golden eagles over the hide and glen and our local pair of Buzzards being very vocal whilst soaring around the site.
If you’d like to join us for a trip to visit Mull Eagle Watch and the opportunity to see Fingal and Iona in action, please call the Craignure Tourist Information Centre to book (booking is essential) on 01680 812556. We are open Mon-Fri and run two trips per day at 10am and 1pm, with trips lasting about 2 hours. Both John the RPSB officer and I (Rachel the new Seasonal Community Trust and Forestry Commission Ranger), will be on hand the entire time to provide information, help you spot the birds and answer your questions.