Today at Loch Frisa, as we all prepare ourselves for the inevitable, an eagle's head in the clouds is pretty much all that's been visible. The dreich weather continued to cast a gloomy blanket over the forest and loch. And over the eagle's nest . As the rain fell, the soggy head and beak of Frisa (or was it Skye?) was just about visible above the rim of the nest. Sometimes the head shook, sending a small shower of droplets into the air. Sometimes the incubating bird stood for a minute or two, looked forlornly into the nest cup and shook hard, sending a bigger shower of droplets into the air.
Then there was a wing stretch or a squirt of relief over the side of the nest. And you just knew that bird had been there for far too long. The other was sat in the loch-side tree. No intention of moving. The last changeover was at 11.30am. It was now 5.30pm. And then the cloud descended completely and the nest and the eagles vanished from view. In some ways it was a relief not to watch.
Since Day 1, the team of volunteer eagle watchers from the local community and visitors who have helped out, have kept a daily log. A minute by minute record of Frisa and Skye's behaviour, change-overs and events. While the cloud was down, I re-read it all again to see if there were any clues to explain what was transpiring now. There were none. It had all been a very normal, routine incubation. A week is a long time in Nature. Just last Sunday, we were 'phoning round everyone with the good news of a likely hatch. Today I read a brief entry in the log from one of the watchers this morning which I'll let you see now. It kind of sums it all up.
"This is the saddest watch I've done. All around there are signs of new life and then I look at a magnificent bird sitting resolutely on a failed egg. Does she sense that all the time and effort spent this year will come to nothing? Or does she still hope? Frisa and Skye, you have my sympathy - but more than that - you have my profound respect"
Dave Sexton RSPB Scotland Mull Officer
Hello Debby and Dave-I havn't replied to your last two blogs yet as I was hoping for a miracle and wanted to wait uintil you told us both birds were off the nest. Just red your latest and I think it has now sunk in that there will be no chicks this year.
I am devastated for you both, your team and all the brilliant volunteers that help on the island.
As others have said you do a fantastic job there and Skye and Frisa are brillant parents, it is so sad for them. I was surprised this has happened but then considered the dreadful weather Scotland has had most of the winter and obviously that has a big part to play in the breeding cycle.
I hope other pairs on the island are doing better and I know you will tell us as soon as you can how many chickes have been spotted this year.
Is there any sighting of Heather on the island recently?
Whilst they were incubating I have been following the adventures of the Estonian eagels and 10 bald eagel nests in America, fatastic webcam pictures and its just amazing to see how fast all the chicks grow. No loses although one laid 4 eggs as the nest was covered with tons of snow and they kept dropping to the bottom of the nest-one egg survived and the chick is enormous now.
The more stories you follow the more you understand the problems in egg hatching and chick survival.
I am sure you will still get plenty of vistors this year as Mull is beautiful.
If my husband gets another job sorted when his finishes in August we will be up to visit you and Loch Garten.
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