Saturday, 16 June 2012
White Tailed Eagles
The RSBP Eagle Watch Hide is now in the forestry at Glen Seilisdeir at the southern end of Glenmore and at the head of Loch Scridain. The area is perfect territory for the White-tailed eagles allowing them a varied menu of fish from the loch and rabbits from the glen. So with twelve other people, a mixture of islanders and visitors, and about a million midges we were taken by the RSPB rangers on a two hour visit deep into the forest. The hide, hidden in the trees, is well equipped with powerful ‘scopes trained on the nest. This year the breeding pair have hatched two healthy looking chicks.
Through the aforesaid scopes we watched the birds undisturbed routine with the female adult returning back to the nest to feed the chicks. They were about four weeks old at the time of our visit which is about half way to being fully fledged and ready for the outside world. After a time in the hide we returned along the approach track to a log cabin for a talk by the ranger whilst watching the screen from the remote camera trained on the nest. This gives a “birds eye” view of the chicks and the nest. Sadly, this is as much for security as it is useful to monitor the health of the young chicks. There have been a number of prosecutions of photographers disturbing the birds and even an inveterate egg collector.
Whilst the hide visit is well worthwhile, many of Mull's White-tailed eagle population can be seen at the coast, with several breeding localities in close proximity of public roads, which can make the viewing of these awesome birds easier and as a bonus we occassionally see them circling high up over our village. In fact, later on the same day we were at the head of Loch Scridain and watched as a White-tailed eagle was being mobbed by two buzzards aided and abetted by one very brave gull. We thought the attackers were trying to make the eagle drop her prey but she beat them off by turning on her back and presenting the diving birds with her razor sharp talons. She flew off to feed her young and we nursed sore necks! Sometimes described as “flying barn doors”, the White-tailed eagle (also sometimes called the Sea Eagle) is the largest and heaviest bird of prey in the British Isles. They weigh around 7 kg and measure one metre from head to talon when perched. In flight the long, broad wingspan of 2.5 metres is unmistakeable as is the large white tail that gives then their correct name. They are a majestic and awe-inspiring sight whether seen perched or in flight.