Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Day 70 and she's not giving up yet!

Well the news from Loch Frisa is that Skye the male has virtually given up nest duties leaving Frisa to continue sitting - now 70 days which is officially a new record.  Heartbreaking to see her - all the effort that goes into the breeding process for this huge bird and sadly, this year, nowt to show for it. 

Today I went out on a boat trip with Mull Charters - out of Ulva Ferry into Loch Na Keal - puffins, guillemots, black throated divers, GN divers, razorbills, seals and of course what came to check us out, but the male from the territory on Loch Na Keal.  The weather was overcast but we had a fantastic time and I would recommend the trip to anyone! 

This weekend, we are getting the caravan out of mothballs and heading off somewhere - not sure yet!  Our guests at the holiday cottage are in for a fortnight so bit of a treat we get changeover Saturday off!

Monday, 26 April 2010

Ups and Downs of Nature

I think the last week has really demonstrated the power Mother Nature has over us.  For the last month and a half, the Eagle Watch team have been carefully keeping a beady eye over the nest of Skye and Frisa, alerted to any snap of a twig, hint of a motorised vehicle approaching, the whirr of a cyclist's wheel - all in an attempt to protect the nest from any disturbance either deliberate or otherwise.  They give up their free time, use their own vehicles, often travelling long distances, sit for hours in cold damp conditions - all for the same reason - that Skye and Frisa can safely hatch their eggs free from harm of man!  The one thing we cannot interfere with is the great Mother Nature.  Sadly she had other ideas.  The weather was awful to put it mildly - cold, hail stones, snow, gale force winds - you name it - the nest got if full blast.  How could a little chick survive that.  I keep wondering if there was anything I missed, anything I could have done differently but it all comes back to the same answer - you cant interfere with nature.  This year it just not meant to be.  There are another 9 pairs of white tailed eagles nesting on Mull - one of those, as expected, have not laid but fingers crossed we will have some good news on our other pairs.  Skye and Frisa - take this year off as parents - come back next year and try again - we will be waiting for you ready to watch over you again.

Mute Swan, Aros

There is a really flurry of activity at Loch Frisa - the sand martins are busy feeding as well as relining their burrows; a pair of pied and grey wagtails are busily building their nests at the back of the car park; our buzzard is sitting on two eggs at present  and we are lucky to have a camera on the nest with pictures beamed back to the hide; a couple of new visitors to the feeders - a lesser redpoll and a male reed bunting who is getting so fat will soon be unable to fly.

Lesser Redpoll, Loch Frisa

Friday, 23 April 2010

Sad News from Frisa

The weather has been so mixed recently ranging from warm sunny days to snow all within 24 hours. Sadly, this is possibly the reason our white tailed eagles at Loch Frisa, Skye and Frisa may have failed in their nesting attempt this year. They incubate for 38 days, carefully watched by our Mull Eagle Watch volunteers. At the weekend, a feed was seen at the nest but after than nothing. We fear the young chick died, probably from the extreme weather - the nest was in full blast of the cold northerly wind, snow and hail. At the moment, they are stil incubating a second egg - as time goes on, hope is fading. This pair usually hatch their chicks within one day of each other - it is now almost a week. We are hanging on by our finger tips - today has been non stop rain - what chance do they have?  This photo of Frisa our female was taken a couple of days before they settled down for the incubation process - it was as if she was enjoying her last days of freedom and making the most of the lovely weather we were enjoying at the time.   Today was the Daffodil Tea Party at school which was a welcome distraction.  Hannah performing her gymnastics display, lots of tea and cakes all raising money for MacMillan Nurses - a worthy cause.  This weekend will be spent at Loch Frisa with eyes glued to the nest hoping for any signs.  Will keep you posted.  Positive thoughts only please.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Get off - its mine!

Get off - its mine!
Originally uploaded by Wild Freckle
Well the eagles have some competition at Loch Frisa in the form of the siskins. They are regulars on our feeders but the antics keep the visitors entertained - they are really feisty wee birds. A goldfinch came and had a look at the feeder but they saw him off with a flea in his ear. The weather has been absolutely glorious for the last few days - really warm and beautiful blue skies. All of a sudden there are lots of butterflies about, peacocks and small tortoiseshells - willow warblers are back, singing their hearts out and the sand martins are back relining their burrows. Wont be long before we have some news of hatchings of the eagle variety. The Island is busy now with visitors enjoying the fine weather and all the wildlife we have to offer.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Tree Creeper

Tree Creeper
Originally uploaded by Wild Freckle
Things pretty hectic at the moment - Operation Easter is in full swing - this is where our most visible and vulnerable sea eagle nests are watched 24/7 and in between running trips to the hide too.
Great excitment on Sunday, a goshawk was displaying over the forestry at Loch Frisa. There have been regular reports of goshawk on Mull but sadly not photographic evidence to back it up. Luckily I was with a guy who is used to watching them so between us no doubt! a first for me. Our resident eagles, Skye and Frisa are now well into their routine of incubating their precious eggs. Today it rained pretty well most of the day - Frisa did not move off that nest and Skye just sat nearby looking miserable in the rain.
The Island is noticeable busier as we gear up towards Easter - lets hope we get some decent weather for our visitors.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Torvill and Dean on Mull

Well we are still enjoying our great weather on Mull.  This is a fairly busy time as our eagles are getting ready to lay and should be well in the throes of nest building or adding to ones used in previous years.  Just walking along the beach, there is a distinct change in the behaviour of the birds - they are pairing up, their song has altered and some stunning displays are going on.  This afternoon I watched oystercatchers displaying and a male chasing off someone trying to steal his woman!  Down at Loch Frisa, our eagles have been keeping us guessing - this is getting to be bit of habit! Earlier this week, I watched both of them standing on the frozen loch and then proceed to mate!  You would have thought they would have been slipping and sliding but oh no - looked like old hands.

I manage to catch the pair of dippers which are a lovely sight.

As I was walking up and down trying to spot them, I found this guy hiding!

Here is a shot of our eagles stood on the ice

Skye - male on frozen Loch Frisa

In this picture, Frisa the female is on the left and Skye the male on the right - like lots of bird of prey the female is larger than the male and you can see clearly the difference here.

Well, Holly our springer spaniel has managed to last the week without tearing out her stitches - they come out on Saturday and we have managed to survive without the dreaded lampshade round her head.  She is desparate for a good run - the vet said keep her calm - thats like saying to me dont eat chocolate!! 

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Snow, Gulls and Eagles

Today, the weather was supposed to sunny and of course, they were wrong - pretty overcast with bits of white stuff floating about but still dry.  I couldnt get excited about the housework so suggested we went to Calgary Bay to blow off the cobwebs.  We decided to drive round the coast rather than through the glen road.  We hadnt gone far when we spotted one of the male sea eagles doing a fantastic fly past and then fly straight into his nest!  Not bad for starters.  Great Northern Diver, mergansers on the Loch and a kestrel sat in the top of tree as we drove past - quite close but the light was awful for taking a pic - he would probably have flown off as soon as I picked the camera up!  We called in at Ulva Ferry as there is usually an otter and seals in the area - a great black backed gull with a youngster were close into the pier - managed to get a shot of him as he came into land - I thought his wings and tail resembled one of our eagles from behind - they are such a huge gull.  As we turned inland heading for Calgary, I was amazed at just how much snow there was!  I took a picture of one of the drifts - Hannah was playing in the snow and it was up to her knees (and she's quite tall!).  As usual, at this time of the year, there was just us and one other couple on the beach.  As we pulled into the car park, the common gull who always seems to be there came over to greet us - there's something about common gulls not sure what but I have a bit of a soft spot for them.  A herring gull was hanging about waiting for crumbs and it was interesting to see the difference between the two gulls.  We did two lengths of the beach before the cold northerly wind got to us.  We drove home through the glen and was delighted to have a white tailed eagle flying parallel with us and then land in the river just yards away - stopped for a drink before he flew up to a nearby crag where he eventually was getting hassle from a buzzard - guess he was sat in his spot.  Finally had to return home and quick lick and a promise with the housework - sat down to read the paper only to spot the barn owl hunting outside - not seen him for sometime so hopefully he's now back - hopefully he's got a mate tucked away somewhere!

Friday, 26 February 2010

More Waxing Lyrical

Well the weather was a tad brighter and drier today and the waxwing is still in Dave's garden - I sneaked into the garden and there he was happily feeding on apples, plums and kiwi fruit - what a great diet.  He certainly wasnt bothered by my presence but kept a watchful eye out on the other birds - the chaffinches seemed to be giving him a hard time - whenever he flew up into a tree they would all join in and appear to "force him out".

There is also a short video of one minute taken on  my little Lumix camera - its on Youtube and Flickr

Still having strange weather here - no snow here in Salen - I was due to do a trip to the eagle hide this morning but had been advised by the Forestry Commission (one of the partners and whose land the hide sits on) that the track was treacherous and therefore we should cancel the trip.  I managed to contact everyone except one so had to drive to the meeting point to tell them the trip was cancelled.  As I drove up, I kept thinking "but the road is clear - where is the snow?" - I turned off the main road down the track, about 100 yards, turned a bend and there it was - deep, not so crisp but very soft - and very hard to drive - I crawled down to the meeting point where my phone beeped to indicate a message - from the guys I couldnt contact to say they were unable to make it either!  I managed to turn the van round and head back home - I thought I could sneak to the hide and check out our eagles but it really was awful and just not worth the risk - will have to hold off for a couple of days more.  Tomorrow there is a large meeting on Renewables on Mull as to where we go for the future - should be interesting - but the best bit is the Screen Machine showing Avatar tomorrow night - really looking forward to it!

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Waxing Lyrical

Originally uploaded by Wild Freckle
Look what turned up in the garden of our RSPB Officer? A beautiful waxwing. He arrived yesterday and was still there at lunchtime. I was so excited as this is a first for me - stunning little bird - strange that all the chaffinches sat in a nearby tree just watching him - sadly all alone but enjoying the fruit that had been put out for him.

There haven't been many sightings of waxwings so far which either means they have plenty of food where they are or its just too cold down here for them.

After my boasting of suncream and sunshine, it all went downhill yesterday - hubby had to turn back from Carsaig as unable to get through due to the snow on the road although here in the middle of the Island its just wet with lots of sleet.

On Tuesday I did the scenic trip round the Island and saw heaps of stuff including both types of eagles, great northern diver, black throated diver, goosander, red breasted merganser, hen harrier, redshank, ring plovers to name but a few. Will post some scenic shots.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Still blue sky and sunshine!

We are really being spoilt here at the moment - yes its cold with snow and ice but daytime is clear blue sky and sunshine - so much so, that having spent most of yesterday outside at Loch Frisa I needed after sun cream - honest!  There was real warmth in the sun, even though the Loch was covered in snow - a first for me!  Both our adult sea eagles sat in one of their favourite trees for most of the day - they really should be getting their talons out and building a nest - these two seem to like a change of scenery each year whereas some pairs on the Island will use the same nest.  This seems to be the pattern that followed last year when they decided to build their nest quite late on - this resulted in not the best nest and may have been the cause for the loss of our male chick as he prepared to fledge and part of the nest collapsed.  It was a lovely group of visitors who came to the Hide, just enjoying the stunning surroundings and the weather.  My only worry is what will our spring and summer be like - we are being spoilt at the moment.

This afternoon, spur of the moment, having delivered a parcel to a neighbour I decided to walk down to Salen Bay and to Aros Bridge.  I had no binoculars or camera with me - typical.  It was just nice to stretch the legs and feel the warmth of the sunshine whilst walking along the verge in the snow!  There were plenty of seals in the bay basking in the sun looking like giant grey bananas, 4 gey heron, oystercatchers, curlew, wigeon, teal, great black backed gulls, herring gulls, ringed plovers - plus some I couldnt identify without my bins!    This is a picture of that little walk taken recently to give you an idea of the view.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Return of the Siskins

Great day at the eagle hide today - had a group of 17 - both the adults, Skye and Frisa were sat in a tree opposite to everyone had fantastic views of them.  After some time, Skye took off and flew across the Loch to join another 3 sea eagles on the far side - it was possible he went over to "see them off" as a threat to his territory or indeed his missus!  We had a covering of snow overnight so it made the whole scene at Loch Frisa very picturesque.  Noticeable today were the numbers of siskins that arrived on the feeders - they really stood out against the snow - lots of crossbills around too.  Another trip planned for tomorrow.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

A bit late for Big Garden Birdwatch!

Well, I've been away from the Island for most of the week attending a conference in Pitlochry - the weather was absolutely stunning with lovely crisp mornings and bright clear days. The only trouble was I was wondering what those eagles were up to - with weather like that its great for nest building - who knows where they will decide to make home this year - Loch Frisa is 8 miles long with many a tree - but this morning as I lay in bed, 2 huge birds flew past the window - with a "what the ************** was that?" I leapt out knowing full well it was our two eagles that obligingly sit on the rocks looking out to sea. Its so nice to go away but even better to come home and with a wake up like that I know where I would rather be.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Urban Birding On Mull

In early January, we were delighted to welcome David Lindo, aka The Urban Birder and Russell Spencer, brilliant photographer to Mull - a first for both of them.  Within half an hour of landing on Mull we had a juvenile sea eagle fly past - that set the tone for the week.  Lots of ticks including David's first real Scottish golden eagle, not one, but two doing a great display for us.  Whilst he was here David gave a talk to the Isle of Mull Bird Club about his own patch in London, The Scrubs - famous for the prison but for David his little bit of birding paradise.  It was so refreshing to hear his passion and love for this area of London that many people would not even give a second glance to  - but look deeper and you can find all sorts of treasures.  It certainly made me look deeper on my recent trip to London and spotted a grey heron flying over the North Circular!  It was a fantastic week and you couldnt meet two nicer guys - come back soon! 

Check out David's blog and website
and take a look at Russell's photos - just stunning

David Lindo with the RSPB's David Sexton watching goldies!

Russell F Spencer

(both photos Debby Thorne)

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Spring is coming!

One of those jobs I keep promising to do and finally got round to doing it yesterday - washing all the bird feeders, tables, bird baths and general tidy up!  The weather was lovely with blue sky and sunshine and really didnt feel too cold.  As I was pottering in the garden, a real hint Spring is on the way:

I was also watched by this little fellow - a dunnock - they may not look particular exciting but boy can they sing!

The weather for this week is forecast to be cold again - back to scraping the ice off the windscreen

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Loch Frisa - North to South

Blue sky and sunshine today so thought I would take a wander up to Loch Frisa and see what those eagles have been up to! Its been a couple of weeks since I've been up there due to snow and ice and a trip to London so have been itching to get out. It never disappoints no matter what the weather - and today was just perfect - you could feel warmth in the sun and I sat and ate my lunch outside with no coat - wey hay! Both adults were bathing down at the lochside and having digested lunch took to the sky in a dazzling synchronised flying session - the dancers on Strictly could learn a lot about timing from these two. They are in the process of checking out potential nest trees but so far, havent decided which one yet!

Sunday, 31 January 2010

White Tailed Sea Eagles

White Tailed Sea Eagles
Originally uploaded by Wild Freckle
Took this short video clip on 10th November. It has been very showery and then the sun came out. The stars of this clip are Skye and Frisa, the resident white tailed eagles at Loch Frisa. This year, our viewing hide has stayed open for the first time throughout autumn and winter. They should be looking for their new nest location now - I witnessed them mating over Christmas so love is definately in the air.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Bill Bailey and Mull

Last Autumn, a crew from Sky Television and a team of celebrities including Bill Bailey, Jayne Middlemiss, Alex Zane arrived on Mull to film a new series called Bill Bailey's Birdwatching Bonanza.

It was a new series whereby celebrities visited various parts of the UK with the aim to spot wildlife and score points - Tonight the episode filmed on Mull will be shown at 9pm on Sky 1 - I hope it manages to capture the spirit of Mull and the wonderful wildlife we have. 

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Mother and young

Mother and young
Originally uploaded by Wild Freckle
Caught these otters playing in Craignure - there were actually 3 but just couldnt get all 3 in one shot.

One Handed

Well, it has been a long time since I last blogged and have resolved to try and do better this year.  I help write the Mull Sea Eagle blog, along with Dave Sexton but this is my own personal blog. 

Matt, our 3 year old Springer has well and truly settled in and has been joined by Holly, another rescue springer, who is just a year old.  She is nutty as a fruit cake, never been told "no" so its like starting from scratch - but we are slowly getting there.

At present, I'm recovering from a carpal tunnel operation to my right hand - I've put up with it for the last 9 years and finally bit the bullet and had it repaired - hopefully it will be an end to sleepless nights and a painful hand and dropping things! 

Matt and Holly

I've not been to Loch Frisa for a week or two now and am desparate to see what our sea eagles have been up to - they should now be nest building - who knows what end of the Loch they will choose this year.  In 2009, the hide stayed open throughout the Autumn and Winter which proved really successful.  We are lucky that our sea eagles are here year round so you can come to Mull and see them anytime - Loch Frisa is a stunning spot anyway and we've had some visiting eagles too - one youngster cheekily sitting on Skye and Frisa's roosting tree.

Anyway - struggling with the one handed typing at the moment so will wrap up now but will resolve to blog more regularly.

Loch Frisa