We can't pretend it's always wonderful and perfect here on Mull. You only have to look at the TV weather maps at the moment to see what's going on. It seems like one low pressure system after another drifting in and then standing still. It's not been a very memorable day at the hide for Debby and indeed many folk took the sensible course of action and postponed their visit until a better day. Usually we still press on regardless as things can change fast and sometimes the sun breaks through and the eagles fly high to dry off. A sight to behold. But not today - at least not until about 6pm when all our visitors were back at their guest houses or self catering cottages and getting ready for dinner. Don't blame them either.
In this cold, wet rain we worry for the chicks and not without good reason. For some nests that have only just hatched, it can be a killer. The adults will brood and keep them warm but they still have to feed the chicks and themselves and that's when the wet strikes and hypothermia can take its toll on fragile downy chicks. In fact they're better off when they're still in the egg. At least they have an extra layer of protection inside that shell.
I wanted to reassure myself that all was well with Frisa and Skye and their two chicks. I half wish I hadn't bothered and had remained blissfully unaware but sometimes you just have to check. Both adults were there. They did indeed come out when the rain finally stopped and flew high in the blustery wind to dry off. Skye perched in his favourite tree with wings held open and then drooped as he let the wind act like a hair dryer through his damp feathers. Frisa was only on the wing briefly before she swooped back into the nest and started to feed herself and then one of the chicks. But try as I might I could only confirm one chick. It was always the same confident, strong little head that begged and was then fed. There was no sign of its sibling. But we've been here before. The view wasn't great. Branches kept getting in the way and the 'scope shook in the wind. Sometimes one chick is stronger or hungrier than the other. Eventually, the other one pops up and you can breathe again. But not tonight. Not yet. I comforted myself by listening to the early evening bird song - song thrush, blackbird, a mistle thrush (his old country name of 'stormcock' couldn't be more apt), willow warblers and a robin. They were all doing their best to remind us it's spring and I did my best to stay positive. That other chick would be there somewhere, Probably tucked in snugly under Frisa's warm brood patch. Probably.
Dave Sexton RSPB Scotland Mull Officer
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