Can you recall where you were and what you were doing 25 years ago?  I was living in Hertfordshire, sitting behind a desk working for a large pharmaceutical company and listening to Wham 'Careless Whisper', Dire Straits 'Money for Nothing' (remember that video?), and my favourite band, Simple Minds singing 'Don't You Forget about me'! In the news that year - fire engulfed a wooden stand at Valley Road, Bradford during a football match killing 56 people; 38 spectators were killed during rioting at the European Cup final between Liverpool and Juventus at the Heysel Stadium in Belgium; the film 'Back to the Future' opened in the US; LiveAid concerts in Philadelphia, Pennysylvania and London raised over £50million for famine relief in Ethiopia; the first version of Microsoft Windows was released; Dian Fossey, the American mountain gorilla scientist and naturalist was found murdered in Rwanda.  To be honest, there wasn't a huge amount of good news around that year - or was there?

On the Isle of Mull, back in 1985 something truly amazing was about to happen.

In one of Mull's most scenic glens, a young bird was about to take a huge leap - not just any bird and not just any leap.  A young sea eagle had the hopes of his species truly resting on his wings - after an absence of nearly 70 years, a white-tailed eagle chick was about to take its first flight in Scotland.

Last week, we were joined on the island by our RSPB friends and colleagues Roger Broad and Justin Grant - they are BTO licensed ringers and were here to start the exciting but tiring job of ringing our sea eagle chicks.  I was lucky enough to be able to join them on one of the sessions.  It was a beautiful sunny afternoon as we headed off.  As we arrived at the tree where the nest was located, Dave pointed out a long-since fallen tree where 25 years earlier he had been watching a nest waiting for a young sea eagle to take its first flight.  Ironically, it was only yards from where we were standing.  I can't begin to imagine how that must have felt watching a young sea eagle and holding your breath as it takes its first flight - the first flight for a sea eagle chick in Scottish skies for a generation.  I felt quite humbled to be on that same spot watching another sea eagle chick, who would soon be taking its first flight.  But for that first chick 25 years ago, taking its first flight - things didn't go quite as planned.  You can read Dave's blogs from that incredible experience The best and worst of times and A new dawn  Meanwhile, our chick was successfully ringed, measurements taken and DNA swabs taken to establish the sex.  As I left, I gave a backward glance and whispered "Godspeed little one - soon you will be spreading your wings and venturing into the big wide world - stay safe!" 

Photo Justin Grant




photo: Justin Grant 

One of Mull's single chicks in the nest after ringing under SNH licence





At Loch Frisa, we have been delighted to see the return of Skye and Frisa.  During this wonderful weather we are experiencing, they have being doing some fantastic synchronised flying displays and lots of calling to each other in mid air!  They have also been making lots of contact with each other - almost talon grappling at one point - as if they are re-affirming their bond with each other.  It is just great to see them back together. 

Skye & Frisa



Skye and Frisa back together again! (Skye sat above Frisa)





Our buzzard chick is growing at a phenominal rate!  Each day I switch on the camera you can see the changes - its feet are huge - just like clowns feet - far too big for its body!  The sand martins have fledged one set of youngsters and its a delight to watch the youngsters following their parents over the loch diving and swooping, catching insects.

 Some of you may have seen the following photos in the Press this week - they were taken by Iain Erskine under SNH licence.

Photo copyright Iain Erskine





This photo really highlights the broad depth of wings of an adult white tailed eagle which was being harrassed by a hooded crow

photo - copyright Iain Erskine







Photo copyright Iain Erskine




"Go on punk - make my day!"

Great shot taken by Iain Erskine (under SNH Licence) - adult white tailed eagle being mobbed by a buzzard

(photo copyright Iain Erskine)




Dont forget, if you are visiting Mull, come and see Skye and Frisa at the only sea eagle viewing hide in the world.  Mull Eagle Watch

Debby Thorne

White Tailed Eagle Information Officer, Mull

  • Great blog, and great photos Debby.    Some memories there too.  Some other good news from 1985 was my fiance and I buying our 1st little house, I remember us decorating and watching Live Aid on a little portable (did we have a TV licence?  oops doubt it!).  Now we are anticipating our silver wedding next year, and  on 13th July I shall be packing to visit Mull from the 16th :D  *very big grin*.

    So much has been achieved by the Mull Eagle project and all who have been involved with it, we can only thank you for letting us experience these amazing magnificent creatures!  

  • Golleee – you really remember all that Debby? Just wonderful.

    Me, I was here – at this address- in all its mundane-ness (have I made that word up?)

    In a boring job and wishing I didn’t have to pay Council Tax.

    What a Blog !! superb. And superb photos too. Thank you so much Debby.

    But I’ll pass on what I know I’ve already read – just don’t want a cloud on my day – coward that I am.

    More power to the Pair of Loch Frisa and a successful 2011 season you two dear birds.

  • Having lived in the country and on farms almost all my life, I have always been very interested in wildlife, but it is only in very recent years that I have used a computer.  I have really enjoyed all the blogs on various subjects, but particularly  Dave's  brilliant accounts from 25 years ago.   Thank you so much to all at Loch Frisa for the hard work you put in, we will be spending our third holiday on Mull in September and will definitely come to see you.    It is very sad for all of us who watch to know that the nest failed this year, and we can only imagine how devastating it must have been for all of you who put so much of your time and energy into conservation of these beautiful birds.

  • Hi Debby and Dave hope you are over your illness,seems incredible when you think about the number of years Dave and support team have looked after all the Sea Eagles on Mull and other birds as well.Think there must have been lots of heartaches and problems along the way and because of his dedication to them lots of us have discovered the beauty of them and Mull in general.We first went on a day trip from Fort William in 2003 and visited the hide and have been back several times for a fortnight each time and feel sure lots of us owe Dave a great deal because undoubtedly the Eagles have given lots of us a lot of pleasure.Sad news about East Anglian Sea Eagles but do not believe the excuse of N E short of money as a retired farmer constant kicking of farmers by the higher up people in RSPB was bound to have the result of getting landowners against the plan and without their goodwill the scheme in my opinion cannot succeed.How i wish they would take a softer attitude and wildlife in general but farmland birds in particular would benefit.Think what they ought to have done was get a farmer Henry Edmunds from Salisbury to talk to those landowners as he had a Sea Eagle on his farm all winter one year even while lambing with no losses and suggests a few dead sheep left in discreet places would keep them happy.

  • 25 years ago I wasn't living in Bournemouth but in Essex looking after a 2 month old baby girl and a 2 year old boy enjoying being a mum.

    Cute picture of the chick. Sorry to hear there is only one buzzard chick, hope it continues to do well.

    Enjoying watching all the bald eagel chicks I've been following in the USA starting to branch and fledge now-they have done very well at all the sites I have been following thank goodness.

    Regards to Skye and Frisa, enjoy sunbathing. Look forward to hearing how many chicks have been ringed on Mull this year.