Monthly Archives: August 2017

And the name is…

30th August 2017

Bunessan Primary School visited Tiroran Community Forest last week for a day of fun and learning with The Mull and Iona Ranger Service and Mull Eagle Watch.

Children got messy making plaster casts of animal hoof prints along the forest tracks before learning about dinosaurs – the ancestors of eagles – with Emily and Kate from the Ranger Service. Over at the eagles hide, they learnt all about white-tailed eagles and enjoyed handling the real eagle feathers and other props but sadly, our eagle family was nowhere to be seen!

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How many children make a white-tailed eagle? (photos: Sue Hawkes)

Over lunch time, with mouthfuls of ham sandwiches and cheesy wotsits, they shouted out name suggestions for our one female chick in the forest and the list was then handed over to John Clare, the Forest Officer, for him to choose the winning name. Which was…

Arwen!

This translates as ‘muse’ or ‘noble-woman’ form Celtic languages. It is also one of the main female characters from J R R Tolkein’s The Lord of the Rings – a half-elf, half human who eventually becomes a queen. A strong name for a powerful bird.

Dervaig Primary School are currently coming up with names for the two chicks at West Ardhu so watch out for these in the next few weeks.

Arwen is the most commonly seen eagle around Tiroran now, with Fingal and Iona proving trickier to track down these days but we’ve been seeing golden eagles, buzzards and kestrels and a juvenile great-spotted woodpecker on the feeders along with the chattering of crossbills high up in the conifers.

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Arwen on her parents’ perch 

Trips at both hides are running until late September and you can book on a tour by calling The Visitor Information Centre in Craignure on 01680 812556 or by popping in in person. Tours are free for locals.

Thanks for reading,

Meryl

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Finally fledged

Wednesday 2nd August 2017

The second of our chicks at West Ardhu finally fledged on Monday 31st July so they’re both now on the wing and doing well.

The North West Mull Community Woodland eagle chicks will be around 14 weeks old tomorrow, so the chick we suspect to be a smaller male was hanging on like a teenager that won’t leave home– they usually fledge when they’re around 12 weeks old. We’ve since had some really nice views of the whole family, with both the adults, Hope and Star perched up in the trees nearby the two fledglings. The youngsters themselves are quite hard to spot when they’re in the dark green conifer trees as they’re primarily dark brown – such great camouflage.

The juveniles have been taking their first flights and have been doing pretty well, although the landing can be pretty tricky! Despite this, they’ve been managing to land back into the nest tree, spending a lot of time perched up above their eyrie and popping back into it, probably in the hope of a meal.

It’s been so nice to watch this pair of eagles throughout the season, especially as they’ve been so successful by producing two healthy chicks and raising them to this stage. I feel particularly connected to Hope and Star as they’re my local white-tailed eagle family – I spot them regularly near my home on the North West peninsular of Mull in the Caliach Point area. They frequent the machair habitat by Langamull beach which is exceptionally productive for rabbits, a great meal for an eagle. In the winter, I spotted Hope (also known as Yellow C) down on the rocky shoreline on many occasions.

Other wildlife in West Ardhu

One of the highlights for me recently whilst running trips at West Ardhu has been the local Sparrowhawk pair. They’re nesting nearby and are passing over the viewing hide and the visitor car park regularly. Often, they’re carrying prey in their talons which will consist of small birds like finches and tits. So, it seems a good assumption that they have chicks to feed at the moment. Sparrowhawks are such incredible hunters, and often make use of our garden bird tables as a takeaway option. Make sure you embrace them if they arrive in your patch – they’re an indication that your garden is doing well, with enough food to support them!

We spotted a Scotch Argus butterfly when the sun chose to shine, a species which is fairly restricted to Scotland, with two known sites in the North of England. Thistles are in flower right now and are often deemed to be a weed, but they are teeming with insect life too, make sure you check them out. In West Ardhu the thistle heads are covered with bees, hoverflies and more.

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Scotch Argus butterfly

 

Visiting Mull Eagle Watch – August and September

So, the West Ardhu eagle family are all in the area and we’ve great chances of spotting them perched or in flight. The chick in Tiroran Community Forest hasn’t yet fledged but will be ready to make the jump soon. Even after fledging, we’ll still be running trips to see the White-tailed eagles as the newly fledged juveniles will be in the area with their parents for a few more months yet.

At the moment trips are running as normal, 7 days a week across our two viewing hides. At the end of next week (Friday 11th August), things change a little with trips running 5 days per week with opportunities to visit both sites. Once the chick fledges the nest in Tiroran, it’s likely that the tour will comprise of more walking, in search of the youngster, whereas West Ardhu will be the regular shorter walk to the viewing hide only.

As usual though, all of our bookings are taken by the Craignure Visitor Information Centre so if you’d like to book please call them on 01680 812556 or pop in when you arrive.

Meanwhile, if you’re reading from home and need more eagle reading, don’t forget to check out Meryl’s blog posts on Fingal, Iona and their youngster. (https://www.rspb.org.uk/community/wildlife/b/mulleagles/archive/2017/07/22/watching-waiting-anticipating-a-fledge.aspx).

Thanks for reading as usual and I’ll be back once more with next week’s blog post before ending for the season.

Rachel : )