Author Archives: rangerservice

Coastal antics

So… Unfortunately, as many of you know, the first nesting attempt of the Golf Course eagles failed and we were crossing everything in hope that they may re-lay. They teased us with some promising signs such as bringing back nesting material, performing aerial displays and then for four days, they appeared on the nest in the incubation position but… nothing.

Experts were consulted and books were read, all in hope of giving our pair a bit more time to re-lay but we have now truly passed that window of possibility. It’s not all doom and gloom though as Scalla & Anna have used this site for a decade and are showing no signs of moving on. They are still gracing us with their presence on almost every tour, being very vocal and showing their ginormous wingspans!

What we are even more excited about here at Mull Eagle Watch is all the other fantastic wildlife we are seeing. Now that we know they are not going to lay any more eggs, we can cast our eyes towards the coast and watch the nests of ringed plover, oystercatchers and a variety of gull species forming on the beach around us.

Not to mention our first couple of otter sightings! A big shout out to Gill from Devon who was our otter expert for the morning, she spotted an otter from the site for the first time this season. There were in fact two there that morning and we have since seen them on a similar outcrop in the Sound of Mull a few metres away.

The shoreline here is really starting to buzz with the calls of our coastal birds like common sandpiper, turnstone and dunlin. Not to mention the return of the terns! (Excuse the poor joke) We have seen and heard a flock of common and arctic terns on the skerries. Though these may not be the birds that attempt to nest here this year, it’s the start of a very interesting few months at Craignure Golf Club.
We also just wanted to thank NWMCWC (North West Mull Community Woodland Company) for providing our shelter with woodchips to protect us from the mud, thanks!

Cian

Eagle Ranger

A few pictures of the wildlife we’ve been enjoying

Advertisements

The eagles remain a mystery…

It has now been almost a month at Craignure Golf Club and we have no eggs being incubated. However it’s not all doom and gloom, Scalla and Anna have been showing signs they want to re-lay so keep your fingers, toes and talons crossed for our pair!

We’ve been having great views of them around the nest, flying over-head and perching together to be admired by our visitors and mobbed by the resident buzzards and crows. They get it in the wings from just about everything…

Other than the eagles, we’ve been seeing lots of other wildlife at and around Craignure Golf Club including a one off glaucous gull, immature white-tailed eagles, the odd golden eagle, an occasional peregrine, clusters of common sandpiper, turnstones huddling against the wind, ringed plover displaying on the green, curlew calling overhead, reed bunting and siskin at the feeders,  chiff chaffs and willow warbler heard around the clubhouse plus a male hen harrier hunting over the golf course just 30 metres away from us!

Cian

Eagle Ranger

Here are some photos of the lovely wildlife we’ve been enjoying.

IMG_8274

Skylark

IMG_8620

Eider

IMG_8667

Rock Pipit

 

Uh oh! Drama unfolds at the nest…

13th April 2018

On Good Friday, when people all across the country (including myself) were getting excited about tucking into their (*cough* nine) chocolate eggs, we at Mull Eagle Watch were most excited about an egg that wasn’t chocolate at all. It was the first egg that Scalla and Anna had laid in their nest at Craignure Golf Club.

Tours began soon after and our visitors were able to see an incubating eagle on the nest with the telescopes that Swarovski and Viking kindly loan to the project every year.

We were getting great views of one parent flying and of a group of eagle youths that loitered around the area. But there was a third adult around who became a very unwelcome visitor.

On a few tours, this eagle was seen flying around and towards the nest which distressed Scalla and Anna and led them to tackle him mid-air and chase him away. And unfortunately, it became apparent that something had happened in the scuffle which caused this first clutch to fail.

The intruder may well have intended to oust Scalla in order to take over his territory and female. Last year, Anna’s 37 year-old father who lived around Lochdon on Mull, fell victim to this behaviour when the younger male succeeded in killing him.

But don’t fear! Our hopes remain high; we’ve been seeing the pair flying, perching and calling together and even bringing in new nesting material to repair the nest. This is a very positive indication that they will, very soon, attempt to lay a second clutch of eggs!

30768934_10213474568412810_78417691_oScalla and Anna perched together after their interrupted nesting attempt

For now, the pair is wowing visitors by perching in very convenient places and, on occasion, flying right over our heads! It’s just a matter of time before Anna lands in the nest for good.

To book on a tour, call the VisitScotland iCentre in Craignure on 01680 812556

Bye for now,

Meryl

Eagle Ranger

Welcome back to Mull Eagle Watch, 2018!

13th April 2018

I’m excited to be returning to the role of Community Information and Tourism Officer this summer and will be running the eagle nest tours alongside Cian Burke-Brown who is the seasonal ranger for Mull and Iona Community Trust.

This year, we are being hosted by the wonderful Craignure Golf Club. A team of volunteers has been busy refurbishing the club in time for us opening and is even providing refreshments for golfers and our visitors to enjoy post-tour.

It is also the place where Scalla and Anna call home.

Introducing Scalla and Anna

Scalla

30547220_10213463036884529_244501230_o

Age: 22

Birthday: 15th August 1996

Birthplace: Mull

Tag: Grey O (both lost)

Famous family:

  • Son of Blondie – the female who fledged the first chick since the species was reintroduced in 1985
  • Brother to Frisa – one half of Skye and Frisa, the stars of Springwatch and the first Mull Eagle Watch pair
  • Nest brother to female, Grey L,  who tried to incubate goose eggs in 2017!

Favourite food: fish

 

Anna

30550261_10213463089085834_132361414_o

 

Age: 23

Birthday: 4th July 1995

Birthplace: Mull

Tag: white O (both lost)

Famous family:

  • Daughter of the oldest pair of sea eagles in Scotland who finally died last year on Mull aged 37.

Favourite food: fish and small children.

 

 

 

 

Eagle activity

We’re loving the Golf Club’s coastal habitat which is new to Mull Eagle Watch this year and the constant soundtrack of gulls and oystercatchers that comes with it. And we have the beautiful snow-capped mountains behind us to scan for goldies, hen harriers, ravens and the group of juveniles that often give us a fly-past.

30223668_10213463139167086_972525946_o

We’ve seen lots of action already and there’s plenty more to come!

To book on a tour, please call the VisitScotland Craignure iCentre on 01680 812556 or pop in when you arrive. Please inform of any mobility issues.

Debby Thorne is now running new tours of Star and Hope at West Ardhu (where we were based last year). So for another chance to see these magnificent birds,  you can book to visit her at the iCentre too.

Thanks for reading,

Meryl

Eagle Ranger

West Ardhu chick names and a final farewell for 2017

24th September 2017

Mull Eagle Watch tours have come to an end after another successful season in 2017.

Thursday 21st was the last day of tours and, after cancelling on the Wednesday due to a return of miserable weather, I was pleased to be greeted at West Ardhu with sunshine and clear views.

Visitors saw Star swoop in and perch in the nest tree where he proceeded to sit for the rest of the day. It’s easy to think that eagles have easy lives when you see them like this but Star and Hope and indeed Fingal and Iona have all been incredibly busy parents this season, managing to raise three chicks between them despite the gruelling weather that Mother Nature has thrown at them.

The parents are doing all they can to equip their eaglets with the skills needed to survive and we have our fingers crossed for all three. They should now be catching their own prey but they will remain with their parents throughout most of the winter before beginning their long journeys around Scotland in search of a mate and their own territory for the next few years.

And we finally have names for the West Ardhu chicks! Gael and Storm have been chosen by Dervaig Primary School. So I think its safe to say that, along with the name ‘Arwen’ that was chosen for our Tiroran chick, we have some good strong names for these majestic birds. Thank goodness we dodged Eagley McEagleyface as some visitors suggested!

I’m already back at home in Windermere. Today, I went for a walk near Ambleside and enjoyed the familiar views of the surrounding mountains that the Lake District is famous for (as well as the lakes) and I couldn’t help but scan the summits, expecting and hoping an eagle to pop up any second. Needless to say, none were seen. But the Lake District was home to the last golden eagle in England until last year and before their extinction, the last pair of white-tailed eagles resided here too in the 1800’s. After the successful reintroduction of the latter species, it’s only a matter of time before they re-colonise England and I’m hoping it will be here, on my doorstep.

Thank you all for supporting the project this year whether you visited one of our two hides or just followed us on our blogs and social media. The money we raised will now be divided up and donated to the two community forests to aid with their conservation and education projects.

I’m already thinking about when I can return to Mull to visit but in the meantime, I’m hoping I’ll receive eagle updates from Dave Sexton who does such a fantastic job of monitoring these eagles and leading this partnership project.

Here are some of my favourite photos from the season. Enjoy!

Iona and chick

Ringed chick

Ardhu eaglets.jpg-550x0

WA ringing

Tour

WA chicks in nest

Fighting chicks

Arwen

Cruise trip

Fingal

Best wishes,

Meryl

RSPB Community Information and Tourism Officer

Mull Eagle Watch

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!

21034333_1482282181852726_1587396510572206694_n

20992885_1482282028519408_8596289960871327675_n.jpg

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.

IMG_8521

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

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.

Scotch Argud

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 : )