After a weeks holiday I had probably the most enjoyable trip of the year today at Mull Eagle Watch with a great group of 20 visitors. The weather was overcast this morning and rain was forecast this afternoon, but it held off until after the walk when I was on the way home.
After giving an introduction about white-tailed eagles at the hide, we walked all the way to the end of the forest track without seeing a single bird, but there, in one of the large conifers overlooking the bay was Iona, our adult female. We had great views of her sitting serenely with her pale head plumage and huge yellow feet, perching on a topmost branch looking out over Loch Scridain. Suddenly, a buzzard appeared and flew toward her, starting to mob her where she sat. After a few moments of ducking and wing flapping as the buzzard dived toward her head, she took off, pursued by the distinctly smaller bird of prey. Both birds flew low in front of us, the buzzard above and behind, mewing constantly.
I suspected Iona was heading off to roost on one of the trees near this years nest and sure enough, when we got back to the hide, there she was in the top of a spruce tree. After more good views through the scopes, of her regal self, she flew off along a ride between the trees, down to where their favourite pool for drinking and bathing stands below a waterfall.
We had overrun our alloted 2 hours, so the visitors gradually wended their way, happy having not only had great views of a white-tailed eagle, but also learnt a lot about the birds. i packed away the scopes and binoculars and as i drove away through the forest, there was Iona sat again in the top of a large spruce near the nest, watching me as I passed.
I haven't seen our juvenile white-tailed eagle for the past couple of weeks. It was a female chick for our pair again this year and has now been named 'Thistle' by the children from Ulva Ferry School on Mull. Good luck to Thislte over the next 4-5 years as it roams over a wide area searching for a mate. Hopefully it will then set up a territory with its new partner in the ongoing recolonisation of Britain to take up its rightful place as a breeding bird throughout these islands.
The ranger-led trips at Mull Eagle Watch will be happening each weekday until the 2nd October. Book on 01680 812556.
John Clare, RSPB Community Information and Tourism Officer at Mull Eagle Watch on the wonderful Isle of Mull.
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