Tag Archives: wildflowers

Fast approaching fledging

Edging closer to fledging

Things are progressing on Mull and our eaglet is now almost 11 weeks old. We’re getting rapidly closer to the time of fledging for our chick which will be in the next 1-2 weeks. Many other eaglets from other nest sites around the island hatch earlier than Iona and Fingal’s, so will be nearer the all-important first flight than ours. This is a really critical time in the life of a young bird, even more so when you have an 8ft wingspan – mastering these wings on your maiden voyage isn’t easy and it can all go very wrong, so we’ll be watching with both nerves and excitement as the time draws closer. Our chick has already started exploring some of the branches edging the nest and is often really visible whilst standing up tall and prominent. Our adult eagles are still bringing prey into the nest site and we’re often getting great views of them in flight. They don’t usually spend much time on the nest itself now though and our chick will be feeding itself.

Raptor sightings

We’ve been veering from one extreme to another with weather again. It seems we get one glorious day with clear blue skies, and then two wet days making the midges explode in the forest. The eagles have been active though and on most trips we’ve had great views throughout the trip time, we’ve even been struggling to fit all of our usual talks and information in – but we don’t mind being interrupted by eagles! Golden eagles and buzzards have been showing well, yesterday we were treated to a fantastic close view of a golden eagle, with a buzzard following closely to mob the larger bird. Very privileged to see golden eagles close up, they’re normally very secretive! Have a look at the golden eagle ringing process in photos to get an insight into their eyrie. Some days we also get a visit from the local sparrowhawk. These small raptors get a lot of hatred, even in the bird watching world unfortunately as they are wrongly accused of eating ALL of our garden birds.  The raptors are an indicator of the health of the other wildlife and so if you have a visiting sparrowhawk it means you have plenty of prey to support the next level of the food chain – we should cherish our raptors, especially in our garden.

DSC_6484

Juv white-tailed eagle with mountain backdrop (Ewan Miles)

Butterflies and wildflowers

Along with the larger species associated with Mull it’s a great time to enjoy the smaller species like our wildflowers and insects. We’re lucky here that most of our road verges aren’t strimmed regularly, meaning they look amazing and are teeming with wildlife. Unfortunately elsewhere in the UK this isn’t the case as we lose a huge area of habitat due to council regulations each summer. Next time you’re out, take a moment to appreciate how good the road edges look! We had a great ranger event at Treshnish Farm, an area farmed in a wildlife friendly manner. The Coronation Meadow there is fantastic, full of incredible flowers and all the associated bird and insect life. Walking through a meadow like this is a great way to connect with nature and we’ve lost the majority of our UK wild flower meadows due to changes in management practice. Dark-green fritillary are on the wing right now, they’re a large butterfly with powerful flight, along with common blue and day flying moths like the chimney sweeper.

DSC_6603

Dark-green fritillary (Ewan Miles

Chimney Sweeper Moth

Chimney sweeper moth

Thanks for reading and look back soon to see how our eaglet fares in the next few weeks. Rachel 🙂

Advertisements

Live and Wild Webcam

As promised, I shared some photos of the chicks that were ringed last week when I joined the teams. Lots of you on our facebook page enjoyed seeing them, so here they are again for those of you that may have missed them. We visited two nests with one chick each, both at a slightly different age.

The older chick

The older chick

The younger chick

The younger chick

You can clearly see that the older chick is almost fully grown and has lost all of its downy feathers. It still has another five or six weeks in the nest to finish developing its important flight feathers though. The younger chick is still showing a good amount of down and isn’t quite fully grown yet, it is definitely shocked at being interrupted in the nest but it soon settled back down.

Sula and Cuin

We have some very exciting news to share with you all; thanks to a lot of hard work from many people involved and Forestry Commission Scotland for funding we have a live webcam up and running showing a constant feed of a Mull pair of white-tailed eagles. Unfortunately, due to Iona and Fingal building a new site this year we couldn’t get them online, but we do have two online stars to share with you. Meet Sula and Cuin, along with their chick! You can enjoy keeping up with this pair online whenever you fancy. How exciting – this is the first webcam in the UK to give a live feed of white-tailed eagles!

Tune into our Mull Eagle Watch webcam >

Sula is our female, she is easy to identify from the male because she has wing tags on either side; they are white with a black 5. She was hatched in Norway but was then released as part of the final reintroduction phase on the Scottish East Coast around seven years ago. She then made her way to Mull. She settled here with a Mull bred male called Cuin, also seven years old, and they are doing a great job of raising chicks every year. You may recognise them from Springwatch stardom over the last few weeks, this is the Mull pair that featured on TV. So if you’re dreading the end of Springwatch, not to worry as you can keep up with the stars all season. Enjoy the adults perched by the nest, bringing prey in, feeding the chick, and follow the chick as it grows up, learning to feed, building up muscles and preparing for that all important first flight.

Notorious names

We usually task a local school with the important job of naming our Mull Eagle Watch chick. Last year Iona and Fingal’s chick was named Orion. This year we’re going to give our online followers and fans the chance to name Sula and Cuin’s youngster. This will probably be through our facebook page; we’ll take suggestions and then create a shortlist before finally selecting a winner. So get watching the chick online and start thinking of a fitting name. Keep an eye out for an announcement to start the competition.

Meanwhile…

Back in Glen Seilisdeir our parents are working hard bringing in lots of prey ranging from greylag goslings through to mountain hare. Our chick is now just over five weeks old and is due to be ringed anytime soon, so next week I’ll be able to share some photos of our very own youngster with you.

Other wildlife sightings of course include our golden eagles, buzzards and ravens. Willow warblers and chiff chaffs are still signing and we have some lovely wildflowers coming out too. Germander speedwell, ivy-leaved speedwell, cat’s ear, birds-foot trefoil, foxglove and bugle are but a few. We also had a brilliant sighting of a marsh fritillary butterfly on the track, one of the UK’s rare species; its caterpillars are primarily reliant on devil’s-bit scabious.

We’ve had the pleasure of Tobermory Primary and Ulva Primary Schools visiting the hide recently too, great to get them outdoors learning about our wildlife. More school visits to come soon, I’m heading out to Iona Primary in the next week and then visiting four different classes in Tobermory!

Thanks for reading again, hope you all enjoy our webcam. If you’re watching and see anything interesting, let me know! Unfortunately I have to tear myself away often, so I’d love to hear what you’re seeing when I’m out and about.

A recent sunset

A recent sunset

 

Ringing Week

Thanks to Mull Charters for the photograph

Thanks to Mull Charters for the photograph

One chick?

We’re into June already, and things are going by so quickly especially after our busiest week yet at Mull Eagle Watch. We were jam-packed for May bank holiday week and thankfully the weather was pretty good in the most part too. If I was to put money on how many chicks we have I’d go with one. We started out thinking Iona and Fingal may have two beaks to feed but I’m fairly confident going off the amount of prey going in and the movement on the nest that we now only have one chick. We’ve had some good views of the chick’s head amongst the nest material and the adults are regularly in and out of the territory. Not to worry though, one chick is still a great achievement if they manage to raise it to fledging. After a poor year across the island in 2013, with many nests failing and a lot only producing one youngster we’re confident that this year may be better overall. More details to come as we confirm nests in the next few weeks.

I’m very excited this week, as it’s eagle ringing week on Mull. Unfortunately we think our chick may be too young and too small to ring – as Iona and Fingal are a late nesting pair, our youngster will only be 4 weeks old on Wednesday. Chicks should usually be around 6 weeks old at ringing; almost fully grown in size but still a lot of feather growth and another 5/6 weeks on the nest. I’m lucky that I have the chance to attend another nest site ringing to view the process though and get a new series of photographs for the hide. I’ve not yet been to see an eagle ringing and this is something I’d ideally like to train to do so it’ll give me a great insight into the challenge of tree climbing and raptor ringing. Check back soon as I’ll post some photos at the end of the week.

IMG_5277 (Medium)

Captivating questions

We’ve had some great visitors over the last week. And with the children being off school, it‘s so important to encourage our young generation of conservationists, bird watchers and wildlife lovers – we’d be nowhere in the future without their minds and influence. So many brilliant questions about wildlife and eagles, some kids had such an in-depth knowledge already. One in particular sticks in my mind; a young boy who had a fascination for all predators, prey and hunting methods – both eagle species and the red fox were some of his favourites. Adults often get our predator versus prey relationship the wrong way around, and we have a tendency to blame our predators for everything. Usually though our predators can only survive if there’s lots of food for them – a classic example being the sparrowhawk; think yourself lucky if one visits your garden, don’t worry about the small birds!

My bat walk last week went well with a good turn out of adults and children. We had a lovely time in Aros Park learning about our bats, habitats, prey, woodland management and how to use a bat detector. It was a great evening, despite the midges. Looking forward to next week’s “Skydancer Spotting” afternoon, you can come along and join me at north Loch Frisa for a gentle walk – we’ll look for hen harriers, short-eared owls, eagles and more, maybe even some newts along the track…

IMG_5254

I have some school visits coming up for the hide, with Tobermory primary school coming out to see us on Thursday this week, looking forward to that, got some new activities planned for them too.

Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) (1) (Medium)

There is plenty of wildlife to look out for at the minute; the flag irises are in full display and the foxgloves are beginning to show too and don’t forget to keep an eye for orchids around the island too. Lots of young birdlife around, greylag geese all have goslings in tow – great food for eagles. I’ve been watching a newly fledged family of starlings from my window learning what is edible and what isn’t and species like willow warbler and chiff chaff are still singing their hearts out.

Thanks again for reading– Rachel