He had that same carefree swagger that I remember. I could see that 'I don't give a damn' glint in his eye. Everything about him said: 'don't mess with me' but still there was a deep vulnerability and an occasional lack of confidence. It made me respect him even more.
But there he was in front of me. KELLAN IS BACK! The accident-prone, 2010 Mull white-tailed eagle chick - who broke a wing, a leg, was at death's door and spent 4 months in the care of the fantastic Scottish SPCA - has made it through.
I couldn't quite believe my eyes last night. At dusk, as the rain intensified and the wind picked up, there was an immature white-tailed eagle hopping, jumping and half flapping along the flat lands of the huge flood plain in the heart of Mull. The awkward bird jumped up on to a wall and sat there, disconsolate and bedraggled. At the time, my first thoughts were of Kellan. Everything about the bird suggested it was him. But the radio was still silent. No signal. I couldn't be sure. Maybe we had another injured eagle on our hands?
So this morning, now with the sun shining and a stiff breeze still blowing, I returned.
And there he was. Unmistakable. Kellan really was back!
He had made his way up hill from the flood plain and with his wings outstretched, he was drying himself in the warm wind. He looked in great condition. As he preened himself, lots of down drifted off across the purple heather. He's been moulting and he looked paler, more mottled and more 'weathered' since I last saw him in early May. His radio tail mount must have either been moulted or fallen off or simply stopped working as it was scheduled to do about now.
Eventually, by mid morning he was dry. He then simply held his wings open and let the gusty Hebridean wind do the work. It lifted him off the tussock and he quickly gained height. All of a sudden, he again looked like a 'normal eagle'. He glided, flapped twice, circled and vanished over the ridge into a neighbouring glen. His crop was full - he had fed recently and as he slipped out of sight, I simply shook my head in disbelief. A-maz-ing!
Kellan has, again, defied the odds. He did survive that massive storm back in May. He probably hadn't been carried off across the Sound of Mull as I'd wondered at the time. He had simply kept his head down, sheltered in the forestry and then meandered his way up the glen. Sometimes flying, sometimes walking. But whatever way, he'd made it. And now he's in a good place. He's on a friendly Mull estate which will now be stalking red deer and leaving generous piles of gralloch for any eagles which happen to be flying (or walking) by. It'll give Kellan a great start to his second winter back in the wild.
Sure, he found it tough taking off from the flat flood plain. But he's learned to simply walk up hill. And when he's ready, he then launches himself into the wind. And then he's as good as the rest of them. What a bird. What a survivor. They don't come any tougher than Kellan. Don't you just love him?
It's good to be back on Eagle Island.
Dave Sexton RSPB Mull Officer
I'm sure you have by now, but if by chance you haven't voted yet for Treshnish Farm on Mull, Argyll & Bute - the only Scottish farm in the 'UK Nature of Farming Awards 2011' - please do so now! Just visit the RSPB web site www.rspb.org.uk/farmvote
Go on, do it for Kellan - and spread the word to all your e-mail, text, Facebook and Twitter contacts.
Well done, Kellan and all who helped him. Reminds me of the revival of The Man in Black. A great success story and let us trust that Kellan too goes on to greater things, too!
Really pleased to know that Kellan has turned up Dave, he wouldn't have a life without you! Long may he live on the Isle of Mull. Nearly time to return to Vancouver Island after a wonderful time visiting Mull, seeing Debbie again, visiting Loch Frisa, a trip out on Martin Knievers boat to photograph sea eagles at Loch na Keal. A weeks visit to the Hebrides to photograph puffins and visit the area, an unforgetable 2nd annual get together of the Loch Garten Bloggers group and numerous visits to Loch Garten, so now starting to countdown to next year's visit and another charmed week on Mull. All thanks to Sea Eagles and Osprey blogs meeting all the amazing people involved, thank you.
Hi Dave,had a sudden funny thought that I think it must just be about the anniversary of you rescuing Kellan so his appearance carry's certain memories.
Why vote for a Mull farmer on the Nature of Farming awards?
Why does David keep going on about it?
For me the reason, most relevant to this blog, is that it is a vote of confidence in the way that the sea eagles can be accepted by the sheep farmers of the local community of Mull and Scotland in general. It would be naive to think this is not an issue in Scotland but the Mull farmers have been extremely tolerant. Then along comes a farm that's wildlife record is exemplary. Shouldn't we want to give them a big cheer!!
To vote for the Charringtons is to shout a big NO to the mindset that brought about the extermination of these wonderful creatures to begin with.
Not to vote is pretending these issues don't exist.
Of course if you have your own favourite farmer that it is another matter but for me it's eagles FIRST and so vote for the Charringtons.
For more details see treshnishbirdlog.blogspot.com
Just caught up with your blog Dave and it left me feeling quite emotional. Kelllan has against the odds survived and growing into a beautiful adult. What strenght and courage he has. That must have been a most uplifting moment for you. Thanks to to you and all involved for such a happy ending.
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