I know. There is terrible news from Afghanistan so I won't linger for long on the death of one young eagle but just to bring you quickly up to date on some news from Loch Frisa which I know many of you have been thinking about. Thank you all for your support. The first chick we thought had fledged was found dead Friday afternoon. We had all hoped so much that he would make it. We now know the chick was a 'he'. Ironically, his DNA results came through in the morning. We knew he'd gone too early. We knew it would be a struggle for him. We grasped at every possible clue or hint that he was still up there near the nest. But in truth he was probably already gone. I heard the two of them calling last week so we know he survived a short while but probably not for long after that. It just never really felt right to me despite all the positive thoughts. It was very early for him to fly. Frisa and Skye never delivered any food, that we saw, to him on the ground which is where we presumed he was. It's likely they knew there was little hope. Clambering up through the wood, I had a pit in my stomach as I approached the nest tree. A dark shadow near the base of the tree made me flinch. But it was just dark leaves. At the same moment as I felt deep relief it wasn't him, my eye caught sight of his bright yellow feet amidst the lower branches perhaps a metre off the ground and then his proud but limp head overhanging a branch. Eyes closed. At peace. Above him were bits of nest. Clearly a major part of the nest had collapsed and taken him with it. But he wasn't ready. I will send him for a PM in case there are any clues. Looking at him lying in the back of the landrover, I think he would have made a fine young eagle. The usual questions swirl around: what if...? I know from experience that going in to check that 'all is well' can end up causing more problems, possibly flushing a resting bird or making the second chick go too soon. We had to let nature take its course, however hard that is sometimes. But we'll always wonder: what if...? His spirit will live on, we hope, in his big sister who today was down near the loch edge and being well looked after by Frisa and Skye. Perhaps now with only one big beak to feed, they can focus on her and she will grow strong and go on to a long and productive life.
Tonight Debby caught a glimpse of her sitting on a rock at the water's edge, perhaps a little confused to be on her own after so long in the nest with her brother. But Frisa and Skye would be nearby. She will be fine. This evening, I went down to the other nest to make sure Half pint (remember him?) was doing ok. He is looking good, big and strong and was sitting next to his sibling. Both looked great. I did manage a smile as I remembered him being too small to ring just a few short weeks back.
Not for the first time this week, the lyrics to this song hit home: "...when there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by..."
Ok, the news is on. Time for a deep breath, some global perspective and to move on.
Sunday update: Our female chick is fine. Still down by the loch and calling like mad. Skye was sitting nearby keeping a close eye.
Earlier, it was some behaviour from Frisa which makes you stop and gulp. She flew up from the loch side and then perched in the top of the nest tree, something she hasn't done weeks. Then she flew up and down the row of trees, head down, clearly searching. Then back to the nest tree and finally, into the nest itself. She stayed there for some minutes. Perched, then looked all around her. Then one final sweep, ever hopeful, then away, as if finally resigned to her loss. Sometimes, these birds make you wonder.
Dave Sexton RSPB Scotland Mull Officer
Dave - only just caught up with your update. How dreadfully sad to watch Frisa's visit to the nest tree and the nest itself, but in a way you were lucky to witness her behaviour and maybe realise that there is far more to these magnificent birds. As sad as it must have been, you must be learning all the time and once again I say 'Thank You' for letting us be privy to this family's daily life.
Have just worked out how to register! Have been following the Mull eagles since our visit to Loch Frisa during Mull Wildlife Week in May. It was a fantastic experience, and followed up by a fascinating talk by Dave and Co at the Isle of Mull hotel. We were lucky enough to see one of the birds flying along the loch - an amazing sight! It was so sad to hear about the the little male chick, you must all be devastated. Thank you for your care and concern for these incredible birds, and thank you also for all your hard work in answering queries, and keeping us all up to date.
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