Update on the Craignure Golf Course Birds – July 2022

“The island’s white-tailed eagles are having a mixed season so far. A fuller blog on the season overall will follow later this summer but for now this is just to update you on Scalla and Anna, the pair of sea eagles we have focussed on at Mull Eagle Watch in recent years. They nest overlooking Craignure Golf Club who have kindly hosted the project before the pandemic and other factors intervened to pause the public viewing and guided walks.

This year, the pair decided to ‘up-sticks’ and move and build a brand new nest which was impossible to view safely so again, public viewing was impossible. Sea eagles do this kind of move on a fairly regular basis and usually for no apparent reason. It’s just part of their ecology. They had nested in their favourite old pine tree for about 10 years and had given us all amazing views of life at the nest. But over last winter, they decided it was time for a change of scene and switched to an oak!

All was going well for them and they hatched successfully but at some stage during the cold, wet and windy weather which typified the weather conditions on Mull in most of early to mid-May, something went badly wrong. It’s likely the chick(s) succumbed to the weather which is probably one of the greatest causes of nest failure for eagles here. Even if they are being brooded by an adult (which they need for the first 10 days of life to avoid hypothermia) there may be times an adult has to come off, perhaps to feed and that’s when the weather can cause problems. There were several days in a row when the adult eagles will have had trouble hunting. Conditions and visibility were so grim that getting enough food would have been a problem. Sadly, Scalla and Anna will have no chicks this year.

They remain on territory, as they do all year round, but with nothing to tie them to the nest area, they start to roam and drift further afield so sightings have become less and less in recent weeks. They’ll be fine and will now undergo a moult and be ready to start nest building again in the autumn ready for next year. The big question is: where will they choose? Will they persevere with their new nest? Will they revert to the old favourite? Or will they start again somewhere else? It’s all anybody’s guess at this stage but we’ll be keeping a close eye on them and will keep you posted”

David Sexton RSPB

Ups and Downs in 2021

It’s a case of good news and less good news just now. First, the good news!

Our resident sea eagles Scalla and Anna at Craignure Golf Course fledged a single chick this year. They originally hatched two chicks but one sadly died after 10 days. The chick was ringed in June and fledged in August and has been seen flying well. The golf club, Mull Eagle Watch and Police Scotland kept an eagle-eye on them over the season to ensure they were not disturbed. It can be a long 12 week wait from hatching to fledging but we/they did it! Here’s a photo of their 2021 chick on a soggy day in June (photo by Steve Bentall).

A soggy sea eagle chick by Steve Bentall

The eagle pair are now believed to be in their mid-20s and have been very successful over the years but they are now getting on a bit in eagle years. Last year 2020 they also fledged a single chick which was seen a lot throughout the autumn and early winter but has now long since dispersed and will hopefully be safely exploring others parts of Scotland.

Scalla and Anna began building up their nest before Christmas so we had a good idea where they’d eventually settle. We also liaised closely with Skyport at the time who were busy flying drones with NHS Scotland Covid samples from Mull to Oban. As the take off and landing area is not too far from the eagle roosts and nest wood, it was important that we ensured the safety of both eagles and drones.

Now for the less good news.

We weren’t able to open up for the public viewing side of Mull Eagle Watch again this year. With Covid-related travel restrictions still in place at Easter, the partnership involved (Mull & Iona Community Trust, RSPB Scotland, Forestry & Land Scotland, NatureScot and Police Scotland) decided to hold off for another year. We’ll keep monitoring the ScotGov Covid rules and advice and hope to return to business as normal in 2022. Stay tuned.

For now, we thank you all for your past, present and future interest and support for Mull Eagle Watch and we’ll keep you posted on how Scalla and Anna do over the autumn and winter. For now, as the stags roar, the rowan berries ripen and the wind blows, autumn is here and their nest will be swaying somewhat. Everyone is keeping their fingers crossed that they make it through this latest wet, unsettled spell.

Mull Eagle Watch was thrilled to be nominated along with some other amazing projects for the 2021 Nature of Scotland Awards ‘Nature Champion of the Decade’. It was put to the public vote in September and if you voted for us, thank you very much! The winner will be announced on 17 November at the online awards ceremony. Find out more here: https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/at-home-and-abroad/scotland/nature-of-scotland-awards/nature-champions-of-the-decade/

Here’s another shot of Scalla and Anna in sunnier times (photo by Iain Erskine). Until next time…in

Scalla and Anna by Iain Erskine.

Mull Eagle Watch team

Statement from Mull Eagle Watch 2020

The partnership which runs the award winning Mull Eagle Watch project (Mull & Iona Community Trust, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage & Police Scotland) has taken the decision to postpone indefinitely the opening of this year’s Mull Eagle Watch in light of Government advice regarding the current coronavirus pandemic.

The situation will be kept under regular review and if anything significant changes or improves we may be able to reconsider how best to adapt the season to allow responsible eagle viewing whilst ensuring our visitors and staff remain safe.

This decision has been taken in consultation with our brilliant host site at Craignure Golf Club and our hardworking booking partners at VisitScotland Craignure.

Please stay tuned to Twitter @MullEagleWatch & @skyeandfrisa for all the latest news on how the sea eagles are faring this breeding season and any other updates regarding the project.

Thank you to everyone for their support and we hope to be back with you and open for business at some point in the future.

Farewell From Mull Eagle Watch 2019

Alas, the eagles have gone on a journey.

After weeks of watching Scalla and Anna training their young eaglet in the nearby bay. We have had countless up close and personal experiences with the young eaglet. In particular as it soared past us a quite a close proximity multiple times in recent tours. Clearly figuring out navigation and how best to get the wind beneath its wings.
On one particular day, our small tour group turned the corner and as we did so, the young eagle was perched on the beach. Noticing us, it took off and soared over our heads within just a few metres. We could hear the sound it made as it beat its wings and it was as if we felt the wind from the movement on our faces. The young eagle then proceeded to fly towards the nearby hills and seemed to be attempting to hunt. Our group was astonished to say the least. We never intend on getting so close to the eagles, but sometimes they come to you – without warning!

Photo of eagle chick by Brian Redpath.
As time went on over the past month, we had a few days of long duration eagle watches. The entire family of eagles, all three of them, perched on rocks out at sea or in the nearby bay.
One day in particular we witnessed Scalla scavenge some food off a hooded crow, only to be scared off by the young eaglet. Chowing down on the prey, it obviously had been left waiting for a bit too long for dinner by the parents.


Photo of chick looking out to sea by Rebecca Read.

Training has clearly been quite successful this year, as it’s been nineteen years since Scalla and Anna started breeding, so they are very much seasoned parents.


As time went on we noticed the family spending less and less time in the territory. The last sighting we had was of the three of them soaring over the ridge at Morvern, over on the mainland.
This is the furthest distance they have all been away from the nesting site since the beginning of the season. They are now free to continue training and helping their young chick become a strong and independent hunter in lands far away. How exciting for the eagle family to have successfully raised a chick, despite all the challenges they face as a species.


Some incredible sights other than eagles in the last week.
With no eagles in the territory, we have been turning our attention to the majestic coastline and out along the Sound of Mull. Sights out and around the area has given us rewarding views of distant golden eagles soaring along the ridge of the monumental hill behind us. Preferring to hunt it’s own live prey, the golden eagles are best spotted further inland.

Golden eagles seen soaring along the ridge line from afar. Photo by Caoimhe Keohane

Not to mention a pair of playing otters on the nearby rocks. Seals in the Sound of Mull. Including a great variety of waders including curlew, ringed plover, turnstone, dunlin, great black backed gull, black headed gull, redshank, red breasted merganser, goosander, eider duck, cormorant, shag and gannets diving out at sea.


All of this in either beautiful sunshine with rainbows in abundance, or in gale force winds and showers. Nature knows no such thing as bad weather, it’s just weather. Our group in the photograph above were not deterred by the classic Scottish weather. We even had a rainbow appear once the sun came out. Enthusiasm for the extensive range of elements is a necessity here in the Hebridean Islands of Scotland. Sure, you know what they say: variety is the spice of life!

Gun teagamh (without a doubt in Scottish Gaelic) a successful season had here at Mull Eagle Watch 2019 with Eagle Rangers Lizzy and Caoimhe.


Thank you to all the individuals and organisations who supported us this season. In various ways such as attending a tour, gifting us a donation or simply reading this blog and our other social media posts.
A huge thank you to all the partners:

Mull and Iona Community Trust, RSPB, Police Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland. Also to Craignure Golf Club of course, for all the hard work put in by the volunteers and superb baking skills The tours have really appreciated the cake and tea and last but certainly not least the staff at Visit Scotland, Craignure who took our bookings and kept our visitors informed and up to date.

Over and out for this year. Many more eagle adventures to come.
Soraidh slàn le mo charaidean,
(Farewell my friends)

Caoimhe Keohane

RSPB Community Engagement and Tourism Officer

Finally Fully Fledged!

What an incredible time here at Mull Eagle Watch. Our chick is now nearly 16 weeks old and has finally fledged.
Yet to be named, the youngest eaglet on Mull, took it’s first leap at 13 weeks.
In the initial stages we were witnessing a great deal of flapping in the nest. Stretching and preparing it’s two-metre wings for take-off. From the hide we could see the wingspan with our naked eye, taking up the width of the tall pine tree.
Still very dark brown and mottled, with a two-metre wingspan but a wobbly and freshly formed body. Similar to a human teenager – taller than its parents but has a lot of muscle and strength to form before it becomes a fully formed adult.
Once our chick was attempting to fledge, the parents Scalla and Anna would entice the chick with some food. Letting it get a little bit hungry to encourage it out of the nest.

Once out, we didn’t see the chick for a little while. It was most likely perched in a tree beyond our vision. A few time we witnessed it come up above the tree line, looking quite wobbly in flight indeed.

Lately the sights have been steadier. Confidence is clearly growing with our wee eagle.
On one of our recent walks, our guests were enthused to take a walk regardless of the rain. They witnessed a double rainbow forming over the islands and beneath it we spotted our chick perched solo on a rock in the cove, patiently looking out to sea.

Chick Brain Redpath

Amazing Photo by Brian Redpath

Astonished by our luck, clearly it was the double rainbow! We were lucky to watch the eagle for a long period of time. It then moved its wings and sure enough took flight. Confidently and with strength soaring to another nearby rock.
We were and still are amazed by the experience. So far it is the closest we have come to viewing any of our eagles here at Mull Eagle Watch.

Chick Wingspan brian redpath

Look at those wings! Photo by Brian Redpath

Maybe next time we will see the chick flying with some prey in its talons…

We have just about one month to go before we finish our season. So if you haven’t made it down to visit us yet.
Do book on a tour with us!

Bookings and further information can be obtained from Visit Scotland at Craignure and by phone on 01680 812 556.
Trips will run at 11am and 2pm daily except Saturday.

We look forward to taking you on a tour to watch white tailed eagles soar with your eagle rangers,
Lizzy and Caoimhe
Thanks for reading everyone,
RSPB Community Information and Tourism Officer

3,2,1 Lift Off….. Well Almost!

The end of July is nigh. Scalla and Anna – our resident eagles here at Mull Eagle Watch have a 12-week-old chick in the nest and it is just about ready to start learning to fly.

White tailed eagle young are generally ready to fledge, or take their first flight, by 10-12 weeks of age. (Young golden eagles typically fledge around 10 weeks of age.)

The juvenile plumage is complete in 10-14 weeks, by which time they are generally fully grown.

By this time their downy feathers are replaced by juvenile feathers. At the end of this time the adults will start encouraging them to fly.

A few weeks ago when we were watching the nest, we could see the chick periodically stretching alternate wings, then over time stretching both at the same time.

After a while it started beating both wings very excitedly. Imagine being that young eaglet – realising that you have these very large and extendable wings to utilise.

As this young bird grows and develops it will be seen exercising its wings on the nest or on a nearby branch several days prior to fledging. Eaglets practice with short take offs and landings on and around the nest, gaining strength and improving their agility and landing ability.

As we stand at our hide, a good five hundred meters away from the nest, we can see the chick flapping its wings in the tall scots pine with our naked eye. Not unbelievable as it’s wingspan is about two meters already. This chick is the youngest of all the eaglets on Mull, so it is the last to fledge. It will be taking its first leap out of the nest in the next few days. So make sure to come down soon to witness this rare sight.

Will Plane

(Last years Juvenile, picture taken at Loch Don, by Will Plane)

It takes practice for the young birds to become proficient at flying. Landings are almost always awkward and somewhat conspicuous for newly fledged eagles.

Practicing flying is crucial for the young birds, as many try to fly prematurely, especially when startled or flushed from the tree by other wildlife and people who get too close. This, practicing in the nest behavior, gets more frequent the more confident the chick gets. The closer to fledging the more adventurous the chick will become it truly is a very exciting time.

Other wildlife we have had at Craignure includes, the colony of seals out on the rocks have got very adorable seal pups now. We also have Common and Arctic Tern chicks, Ringed Plover chicks all very close to us as we walk along the path to the Eagle hide.

This is such a special time for our wonderful White-Tailed Eagle family. So do come down and marvel at nature’s abundance with rangers Lizzy and Caoimhe.


VisitScotland Craignure iCentre on 01680 812556 to book.


Thanks for reading,


RSPB Community Information and Tourism Officer



We are halfway through the season, my my that has flown by!

Well we are halfway through the season! Hard to imagine that it’s already been three months since the day that Mull Eagle Watch opened. The chick at this stage is nine weeks old. So we should hopefully be witnessing the chick regularly flapping its newly formed wings… measuring up to 2 meters! Absolutely incredible. We have already seen it attempting this a few times on the smaller scale but once that ten week mark comes it will be regularly attempting to figure out the technique that it’s parents use to fly. From the beginning, we saw that fluffy little grey head looking like a little toy. Hard to understand how something can be so adorable from so far away! 😅 Then through the weeks witnessing the exponential rate of growth. Now at the point where it’s nearly the size of its parents!
Plumage is fairly mottled…. yet to grow into that gorgeous signature pale head and brown body with the fanned white tail. It will take about 4 years for this beautiful little eagle to form that majestic notorious white-tailed eagle plumage. And so, as we know, the feet and talons have been fully formed since very early giving it the ability to rip apart prey- holding it down with its enormous feet!

The tours have been going splendidly, we’ve had lots of very interesting and passionate people coming along asking lots of really great questions- which when I hear one I think is fantastic I tweet the answer on our Twitter; Mull Eagle Watch.

For a few weeks we were predominantly seeing the chick in the nest and many of the tours the parents were out hunting more and more, as they have finally after months of being confined to the little nest (although to us it’s not so little, in comparison to every other bird species….it’s about the size of a double bed!!!) 😂 They can finally go off on longer hunting trips, spreading their wings! You can imagine what it must feel like to be such a large bird with such an expensive wingspan and to not be able to go soaring whenever you wish! These birds are born to travel, born to soar…. now finally that the chick is old and strong enough to be left on its own for that little bit longer- these parents are taking the opportunity to stretch their enormous beautiful wings and go on journeys throughout their terrain and even further afield 🙂🦅

We can confirm the nest itself seems secure and strong from when we went into the forest during the ringing session a few weeks back. The experience which was featured in the newspapers The Herald and the Oban Times: Justin Grant (ringer #1) took a photo of Andrew Ford (ringer #2) and the enormous eaglet!

A small group was given the rare opportunity to view the nest from below the enormous ancient Scots Pine within the stunning native woodland where they have chosen to set up their home for the last 5 years. We could really feel the stability of their five-year-old home. Made with branches, sticks and twigs, it was conical in shape and deep. The birds sitting normally on the plateau of the nest. The plateau insulated and lined with softer materials such as sphagnum moss and moor grass. Throughout the forest floor surrounding the nest we found many different feathers of a variety of bird species. Clearly whatever the Eagles had been bringing home… many Fulmar feathers were found and it gave us a rare insight into what these guys get up to on a daily basis nourishment wise.

There was another nest in an undisclosed location on the island with a chick in it that actually fell out of the nest! The chick miraculously fell with the nest and was unharmed, landing on the ground. For three weeks the parents fed the chick on the nest until one of our RSPB people on the island discovered what had happened and noticed that the parents had been feeding the chick on the ground successfully resulting in a ground fed chick in nest! Healthy and thriving… this is not unusual in places like Norway where white-tailed Eagles do nest on the ground.

Other than the eaglet and the nest, the parents Scalla and Anna are doing absolutely phenomenally. They often are seen perched proudly on nearby trees gazing out to the sound of Mull across to the mainland. Occasionally we will see one of them spearheading it out to sea and coming back moments later being mobbed by gulls…. more than likely (with its eyesight 10 times stronger than human being the ability to see nearly 2 km in the distance)😲 Scalla or Anna would have seen some gulls fishing and decided to snatch what they have been working hard to get! No wonder you often see white tailed eagles being mobbed by other birds… they are without a doubt the cheekiest (and profoundly majestic, of course) birds in the sky…
Opportunistic Hunters is exactly what these guys are!

Oher than the eagles here at Mull Eagle Watch, our tours have consisted of big and small groups of very excited and passionate individuals who come out with us to spot other interesting wildlife. We have a colony of seals that are regularly sunbathing (or cloud bathing!) on a rocky island nearby. They have got pups at the moment too, and it’s always heartwarming to see the pups through our binoculars… no matter what age you are a young seal is adorable. 😍

Regular multiple families of greylag geese with their various sizes of Gosling , paddling alongside their parents. Guarantees even on a cloudy day to be a ray of sunshine 🙂

The Common and Arctic Tern that we have nesting along the shore have chicks now which are very active! The terns definitely notice our tour groups and make quite the racket (be sure to watch out when you’re taking the dogs to the beach for shore nesting birds as the eggs and chicks are camouflaged with the pebbles!)
A few ringed plover are local to the shore, running out from the bank each time we walk past. Very cute!

Turnstone, dunlin, merganser, goosander… all of the gulls!

It really is wildlife heaven down here at Mull Eagle Watch 🙂

Your Eagle Rangers,

Caoimhe and Lizzy

VisitScotland Craignure iCentre on 01680 812556 to book.


Thanks for reading,


RSPB Community Information and Tourism Officer


Exciting times!!

The last few weeks have been without a doubt the most interesting so far here at Mull Eagle Watch!
Last week we had the crew here on Mull ringing all the chicks. So far we have 14 chicks between 22 breeding pairs on the island.

The resident pair Scalla and Anna have raised their chick successfully so far. The appropriate age for ringing of the chick is in between 4 and 8 weeks. So at 5 weeks, we knew it was time to climb that tall tree, and put a ring on it!
Scalla and Anna were last to breed this year, and therefore the chick is the youngest of the lot on Mull.

We ventured deep into the ancient woodlands where the nest is located, and the pair of specialist climbers ascended the tree. We waited at the bottom, braving the midges. It was incredible to witness the parents soaring, circling the trees down low, alert calling. You can really understand how they were so easy to hunt to exctinction when this is their reaction to danger! As the climber was getting to the top, you could hear the young eagle calling. The climber exclaimed “Ahoy there little fella” and very quickly picked it up to move it to a safer part of the nest for the ringing procedure, as he did this we caught a glimpse of the chick… and we were all amazed at the size of the being… 5 weeks old and a hefty size! It’s unbelievable to think that in just another 5 weeks time it will be a fully grown ( 2 metre wingspan ) eagle! It’s half way there… and then will be ready to start learning to fly!

As we waited at the bottom whilst the ringing, weighing, sexing and health monitoring procedure was completed. We looked up through the thick canopy of leaves, clear blue sky and sun sending dappled light throughout the forest floor and every few moments the dark silhouettes of the parent birds gliding overhead. The tour group that day definitely had one of the most profound and lengthy eagle experiences of the season!

Ross Underwood

Photo by Ross Underwood!

We will be finding out the sex of the chick very soon, and then we can name it 🙂

Such exciting times over the past few weeks… and many more adventures to come!
Over and out for now…

Your Eagle Rangers:

Lizzy and Caoimhe

Nature and sightings galore!

So we are 10 weeks into the season and we have had many incredible sights of the pair of resident eagles Scalla and Anna (or Scallana) here at Craignure golf club soaring through the sky perched together proudly on the old Scots Pine. We have noticed an exponential growth with the adorable young eaglet. The past few weeks have given us great views of the young one being incredibly hyperactive inside the nest! At this stage the chick is coming up to 4 weeks old…. and FINALLY after weeks of brooding and ensuring the chick has been kept nice and warm and sheltered the pair can now finally take longer more extensive breaks from sheltering the chick. Up to an hour is absolutely fine it appears! As we can see the pair of adult eagles jetting off on hunting adventures… whilst back at the nest the chick attempts to rip apart the prey that the parent has left behind.

Such a wonderful time to be working here on the beautiful and very historical Craignure Golf Club.

will plane 3

Both pictures courtesy of Will Plane 🙂

Visitors have been wowed on one particular day recently with gale force winds – zero expectation of a flying eagle and yet, low and behold out  comes Anna to have a wild play in the wind! Performing an aerial display above our heads ! It was one of the most majestic and exciting spectacles to witness. Lizzy and Caoimhe, your eagle Rangers have met some incredible people on these tours. Individuals who are so unbelievably interested and passionate about conservation and the protection of these native birds of prey. Every day has been an absolute pleasure and wild adventure.

We have seen sightings of otters.. camouflaged incredibly within the seaweed. As we delicately stroll along the coast, minding our steps as there are many nesting birds along the coast. Daily visits from multiple families of greylag geese and their abundance of goslings, trailing along behind… ridiculously adorable! Not to mention the regular oystercatcher, ringed plover, redshank, turnstone, goosander, red- breasted merganser and many common gull… you name it, we have it here on the shore.

will plane 2

We even spotted a pair of red throated divers hunting for fish! We have seen the incredibly delicate common and arctic tern daily as they are currently nesting on the shore, rather unbelievably close by! We have been hearing the electric call of local starlings and witnessing common and grey seal swimming alongside us as we walk along the coast… coming unbelievably close to us into the shore, obviously very curious as to who these interesting humans are! We have also been incredibly lucky to witness an actual cuckoo with our naked eye perched on a nearby tree… the sound of the island!

The golf course and coastal route we venture on every day is alive with the sound of nature… as the mist cascades down the nearby hills, the bluebells are finally starting to disappear, goodbye to that otherworldly blanket of purple laying across the hills. Mar sin leat (Gaelic for goodbye) to the very last sheets of snow melting off the distant mountain tops.

Mar sin leibh an dràsda

(Goodbye for now)

Your Eagle Rangers,

Lizzy and Caoimhe

A quick update!

After a very stressful week last week, I think an update on our beautiful birds is in order! The weather conditions were perfect which was good news for our little chick. We can now confirm there is one little fluffy head in the nest! Anyone any ideas for a name? While everything has been perfect for the chick, Scalla and Anna have had it a little rougher.

Mark Morris
Anna seeing off a Juvenile! Many thanks Mark Morris for the pic.

Starting on the 10th of May, a sub-adult started hanging around. They started by just circling in the area, slowly getting nearer and nearer to the nest as the week progressed. Either of our parent birds would then fly up and see them off. The drama continued as this did not seem to be deterring the wannabe intruder. It was getting closer and closer to the nest. While not a full adult, a young sub-adult would try and invade the nest and we did not want a repeat of last year where the eggs broke, after either Scalla or Anna took off to see another bird away from the nest, accidently piercing the egg as they did so.
Will Plane
A Fantastic Shot of a Juvenile Eagle, see the black edging on the tail. Thanks Will Plane for the shot.

However, while Ranger Lizzy’s stress levels continued to soar….. Scalla and Anna continued to care for their precious new arrival. The sub-adult gave it one last try, and Scalla had had enough! The two birds were circling each other closely, grappling in the air, and disappeared over the mainland. A very tense half an hour later, Scalla reappeared looking as fine and majestic as always. He and Anna were then both feeding at the same time. A very cute but clear sigh of a strong healthy bond between them. The immature did come back a little later, just to circle around once, showing a large patch of missing feathers and then took off. We have not seen them since! So I think it has finally got the message.

Calm has returned to our little corner of Paradise. We are seeing a fluffy head at least once on all tours, as well as lots of other wildlife, including Arctic and Common Terns, Cuckoo in flight, Otters, Common and Grey Seals, Lots of Oyster Catchers, Common Sandpiper, Dunlin, Little Ringed Plover, Wheatear, Whinchat and so much more!

So come along and join us,
All the Best,
Lizzy and Caoimhe