It has been 34 years since sea eagles first started breeding on Mull and the population there and the surrounding mainland peninsulas has gone from strength to strength. There are 21 breeding pairs on Mull alone and the total population of individuals in the area must run into the hundreds. For a young East Scotland sea eagle that fledged in the glens of Angus where there are just a handful of other sea eagles around, it must be like visiting a city.

Satellite tag data from Blue V in 2018.

It’s no wonder then, that they keep going back to Mull. Indeed 2017’s Blue V, a young female, made 3 visits in 2018 alone, covering 150 miles on the round trip each time. The good news is that they keep returning to East Scotland, with Strathspey and the Monadliath mountains rapidly becoming the melting pot of the two populations.

White Diamond in December 2018. Image credit Alyson Houston.

As interesting as lines on a map can be, it’s always nice to see the young sea eagles looking healthy and steadily moulting towards their adult plumage. 2016’s White Diamond was recently photographed at the Highland Wildlife Park by the staff there. Her huge bill is now distinctly yellow, her head much paler and next year her tail will finally begin to turn white.

White Diamond in December 2018. Image credit Alyson Houston.

The resident polar bears and snow leopards must have been a curious sight for Diamond as she circled over the park, but I suspect the resident flock of feral Barnacle geese held the most interest.