Open Farm Sunday at Treshnish: farming, flowers and fantastic food!

 11th June 2018

The Mull Eagle Watch rangers attended the beautiful Treshnish (and Haunn cottages) Farm on Sunday 10th June for their Open Farm Sunday event. This national scheme run by LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) gives farmers an opportunity to show people how they are farming in an environmentally-friendly way and for us, as consumers, to learn about where our food comes from – one of the most beautiful places on Mull apparently!

The farmers, Somerset and Carolyne, gave us an interesting insight into their annual itinerary regarding lambing and meadow management before guiding us around their land.

The meadows looking over to Calgary Bay

And their meadows host the most magnificent myriad of wildflowers you can imagine!

We had orchids (butterfly, heath spotted, common spotted, fragrant, northern marsh to name a few).

Northern Marsh Orchid

 

Heath Spotted Orchid

 

Butterfly Orchid

 

Me smelling the Fragrant Orchid

And the most colourful swathes of other flowers including the pink lousewort, white burnet rose, blue speedwells, yellow buttercups, purple vetch, red sorrel, heaps of wood bitter vetch and even a rare moonwort.

Burnet Rose

Moonwort

We finished the walk with a delicious Moveable Feast by Jeannette’s at Ballygown which we all tucked into on the array of multi-coloured picnic blankets that had been laid out down the lawn, giving us a superb view across to the Isle of Coll. We were joined in our picnic by a group of porpoise who were feeding in the sea below us!

A fantastic event; great farming, great wildlife, great people and great food!

If you fancy seeing this wonder for yourself, why not take a peek at their cottages for your next holiday!

Thanks,

Meryl

RSPB Ranger

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Trouble at Tiroran!


Due to the nest failure at Craignure Golf Club, we have now re-opened tours at Tiroran Community Forest! We are still running tours at the golf course but sightings of eagles can, sadly, no longer be 100% guaranteed.

The first week of tours at Tiroran are now over and Fingal and Iona have not disappointed!

We’ve watched as the eagles fly in to feed the chick who’s now stumbling around the nest and slumping face-down, exhausted from the heat.

But yesterday, on arrival, I was greeted with a view of two adults. Iona was on the nest but it wasn’t Fingal perched above. It was another eagle!

Iona nervously stared up at the bird, intermittently calling for over an hour until Fingal finally smashed into the top of the tree to shoo the intruder away. As it flew, I noticed it’s tail – white with a dark terminal band, making it a 4 year-old/sub-adult. Was this their young from a previous year or a stranger thinking of moving in?

And so the drama continues…

  

 

With thanks to Viking Optical and Swarovski Optik for the annual loan of their amazing telescopes, allowing us to capture these moments!

Meryl

RSPB Ranger

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

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.

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Skylark

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Eider

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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