Thursday, 22 January 2015

Ice, Loch Leven

Photos of a very cold looking Loch Leven taken over the last couple of days.

Ice formations by the shore at Burleigh Sands

Mute Swans


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

2014: My White-tailed Eagle Year

I think 2014 has been my most exciting year so far for White-tailed Eagle watching. Here's a few photos and summary of some of my sightings throughout the year.

January: The year started following the exploits at Loch Leven of regulars, Turquoise X and Turquoise H.  I had several good sightings of them flying together, as well as chasing a group of ducks on the loch!

Turquoise X and Turquoise H flying above St Serf's Island, Loch Leven
H and X soaring above Castle Island, Loch Leven
March: A trip to Mull, proved a good investment, with nine different individuals seen during the week.  I watched a couple of adults nest building: one of the adult birds flew above a tree, thrust its talons forward and pulled off a large branch as it flew over. 

Female White M 
Spotted high above Loch na Keal
Yellow Black Spot (top) and her mate, just see his white tail!
A pair hidden among the trees, after sprucing up the nest (centre) 
Orion, the 2013 youngster of Mull Eagle Watch pair Fingal and Iona
The 'blob' of another adult White-tailed Eagle that eventually perched out of sight
May - September
Nest Watch 2014 for the Fife breeding pair. What an experience, watching the male Turquoise Z and female Turquoise 1. Z  is an eagle I had last seen when he was a couple of years old at the east Scotland release site in 2011, hanging out with that year's releases and showing them the ropes!  

The first few weeks were spent seeing brief glimpses of the adults, they are incredibly stealth.  Once the chick was past the vulnerable stage, the adults would happily sit in the conifers for hours, preening and watching the world go by.  They successfully raised a male, White A, and he fledged in August.

You can read about one of my exciting nest watch shifts on the RSPB East Scotland Sea Eagles Blog here: 'Branching Out'.
Female, Turquoise 1
Male, Turquoise Z
The fledged youngster, White A
Back to Mull again.  This time great views of Yellow Black Spot and her family.  This year, her and her mate raised two chicks, and I watched them all soaring together.  The youngsters were also flying over a herd of red deer at one point, great size comparison. 

I also spotted one of the Mull Eagle Watch adults perched in a tree, and another youngster, probably belonging to the nest building pair I watched back in March.

The two youngsters fly by the Red Deer herd 
Yellow Black Spot's family together
Yellow Black Spot (YBS)
YBS's mate, with one of his youngsters, just below left of him
YBS's other youngster 
Fingal or Iona?! One of the Mull Eagle Watch pair.
I looked in on the Fife family at the end of the month, and was treated to all three of them perching in a tree, the first time I had seen them all together like that.  White A took flight at one point, nice to see him on the wing.

White A in flight
The family also inspired my latest Eagle Antics cartoon book, Tales from the Nest, following the east Scotland pair, as well as a few on the Isle of Mull, during nesting season. More details on my website here
Eagle Antics: Tales from the Nest
Then it was back to where the year started, Loch Leven!  As regular as ever, Turquoise H appeared back at the loch as soon as the weather turned very cold.  I was treated to her fishing, and she ate her catch on the shore of one of the islands, giving me a good view of her identifying wing tag.  She then had a drink, before flying off to Castle Island.  

I've watched her a few more times, and had my best view of her to date (after five years of watching!).  She flew close to the shore, before turning and heading back low over the loch in pursuit of a duck, at an incredible speed! 

Turquoise H at Loch Leven
Art Work

Portraits completed during the year:

Juvenile 'Grey T' released in 2012 in Fife, acrylic 8 x 20"
'Mara', A4 dark graphite sketch
Juvenile 'Red P' in pursuit of a crow that had been annoying him!
A4, carbon pencil sketch
'Turquoise1', watercolour 8 x 6"
'Turquoise Z', watercolour 8 x 6"
Juvenile 'White A', watercolour 8 x 6"
A quick sketch in dark graphite
Currently in progress - I started this one in September and hoped to have it finally finished in January, working on it when I can.
Adult in flight. Acrylics, 20 x 20"

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