Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Return to Mull, September 2014

I finally made a return to Mull this year after my earlier week there in March. This time I was camping, so only managed a night's stay, but there was plenty of White-tailed Eagle action for me to enjoy during my short visit.

Within half an hour of arriving, we were walking alongside Loch na Keal and two White-tailed Eagles flew over, heading out across the loch.

Settling down on a rock on the shore, I started scanning for White-tailed Eagle Yellow Black Spot (so called because of her yellow wing tags with a black spot) or any of her family.  I didn't have to wait long, in fact it was minutes. There above the hillside was a juvenile!

Juvenile White-tailed Eagle 
As if that wasn't exciting enough, there was a herd of Red Deer on the hillside and the eagle was flying over their heads.  Then another eagle came into view! You can view a short video I took of one of the juvenile's soaring over the deer on YouTube here.

Two juveniles soaring by the Red Deer, a great size comparison
Just when I thought things couldn't get any better .... three White-tailed Eagles!

Three White-Tailed Eagles, note the one on the right has something in talons
How could I top that? Well, soon they were joined by another! The whole family together. You can view a short video of them together here.

Four White-tailed Eagles!
The male with one of his two youngsters, just perched below left of him
The other youngster perched in a nearby tree
Before the youngsters perched, one of them was chasing its dad on the wing whilst calling to him constantly, funny to watch.

The day was not quite done and we went for another walk, keeping my eyes peeled for the big birds.  I spotted a diver on the loch, and then a juvenile White-tailed eagle soaring above the hills, possibly the offspring of a pair I had seen in March, so that was exciting.

The next morning, I spotted Yellow Black Spot (YBS for short) herself perched in the conifers preening.  I stood watching her through my scope as I ate my breakfast. Not a bad way to start the day.  YBS has a bit of a reputation as a fiesty lady, but you wouldn't think so to have seen her on that particular morning!

Yellow Black Spot perched in the conifers. (just see her almost centre of photo)
While I was reluctantly packing up the tent, my other half shouted at me "Karen, look behind you!". I turned to see the male eagle flying almost above me!  He eventually landed in a tree close to his mate (YBS).  It wasn't the first time he had caught me unaware; the previous evening while putting up the tent I was shouted at again to look up. I was busy trying to bash in the tent pegs around stones, and right across the loch in front of us he flew.  Why I was doing all the hard work and not eagle watching, I don't know...

"He's behind you!"
All packed up, we headed around to Loch Scridain to see if any of the Mull Eagle Watch eagles were out and about.  We sat in the car for about half an hour when I realised there was one perched in a tree near the loch. I can only hope it hadn't been there all along, I'm usually good at spotting them!

One of the Mull Eagle Watch adults (Fingal or Iona?!)
Thumb-sized sketch of the adult as it was watching a tractor in a nearby field
We had a drive around via Glenmore, and parked at the car park by Garmony Point.  As we still had an hour before the ferry, I managed to spend some time watching the wildlife.  I saw Gannets diving in the Sound, Red Breasted Mergansers, plenty of Oystercatchers and an Otter.  I got the scope focussed on it and saw it munching on something it had just caught.  The water was calm, and the Otter was happily swimming along.

Spot the Otter! (it's just above the seaweed line)
Soon it was time to queue at Fishnish for the ferry back to the mainland. Hopefully I'll catch up with the Mull Eagles again next year!

Here comes the ferry
Bye bye Mull
Thank goodness I have the east coast Eagles to give me my 'eagle fix' in the meantime ...

Female Turquoise 1: "Ever get that feeling you're being watched?!"

© Karen Hartnell & Graeme Low - all images and text may not be reproduced in any way.