White-tailed Eagle, Loch Na Keal, Isle of Mull
Isle of Mull “Eagle Island”- still producing White-tailed Eagles
The Isle of Mull is now known as “Eagle Island” thanks to the thriving populations of golden eagles and white-tailed sea eagles on the island.
Sea eagles have now ‘come home’ to Scotland. They were originally reintroduced to the UK by the Government’s Scottish Natural Heritage after being persecuted to extinction by 1918 in Scotland. This project was based on the Isle of Rum and started in 1975 – following a trial attempt on Fair Isle in 1968. By the early 1980’s a few of the sea eagles had dispersed from Rum and were seen on the neighboring Isle of Mull. The first successful breeding attempt since extinction on Mull in the 1880′s took place on the island in 1985 and the population has slowly increased since then. (RSPB)
The white-tailed eagle is again now getting well established on the Isle of Mull. The latest figures show that there are now 14 pairs of white-tailed eagles on Mull from a total Scottish population of 40 pairs. The eagles were introduced in the mid seventies from pairs brought over from Norway and after a slow start the birds have eventually established themselves. This year the eagles I have photographed have two young hatched and are feeding well. They survived the very bad wet and cold weather and the future looks good for the chicks and hopes are high that they will fledge. The eagles will build two or more nests and decide at the last minute which nest they will use just to keep everyone guessing. Their nest sites are spread over the island and are kept secret. They are watched by an army of very enthusiastic volunteers around the clock to keep the eggs safe from egg thieves and the chicks safe from unscrupulous would-be falconers.
These images were taken on Loch Na Keal from the boat “Lady Jane” run by Martin Kievers who skippers the boat and has a great knowledge of the white-tailed eagles and owns Mull Charters http://www.mullcharters.com/ which operates out of Ulva Ferry on the west coast of Mull.
The boat goes out into Loch Na Keal to a pre-selected spot and Martin throws a fish into the loch, a white-tailed eagle comes down from the nest site half a mile away and takes the fish off the water.