Saturday 6 May 2017

Mull Eagle Watch .... sea eagles on the nest

It is  40 years since white tailed eagles (Sea eagles) were re-introduced to Scotland with an importation of 80 bird from Norway. Noe we have over 100 breeding pa1rs with one of the highest populations on the Isle of Mull. I can see a nest from my garden here on the peninsula, with a telescope of course. Every year hundreds of visitors to Mull see them too.
Mull eagle watch

Mull Eagle Watch does Ranger led visits to viewing points and hides where these great birds, they have a ten foot wing span, nest. You need binoculars or better still a telescope; the nest we watched on this week near Dervaig is 300 yards from the viewing point to avoid disturbance.

We watched the female on the nest, then got up stretched her wings and flew into an adjacent tree to sunbathe while her mate took over the nest. for a while. One watcher I met had travelled from Liverpool that day just for this experience.

Each visitor contributes  ten pounds for the visit, so five months of say 30 visitors a day might generate up to 30,000 stg in a season for local good causes. Then there is the income to the island from food, fuel, accommodation etc. On the down side farmers do lose lambs to the eagles but there is a compensation scheme.

It is an example of how the re-introduction of top predators could benefit the local economy and wildlife diversity in our remote rural areas. However when we leave the EU and there are no more farm subsidies sheep numbers will inevitably decline resulting in less carrion and perhaps fewer eagles. An unintended side effect of Brexit?

Tuesday 2 May 2017

Dawn chorus in the Glenborrowdale, "Atlantic rain forest" and world wide.

Next Sunday, 7th May,  is "International Dawn Chorus Day" so where ever you are you can take part just Google IDCD and you will find an event near you.

This morning I was out in the wood (Glenborrowdale RSPB Reserve) by 4.30 am; the birds start up at least an hour before sunrise.

Sunrise, Glenborrowdale
On a bright, windless morning like this birdsong has been estimated to carry 20 times as far at dawn as at mid-day. It was our resident breeding species that kicked off first, the wrens, robins, great tits, blackbirds and a greater spotted woodpecker drumming.

Then the migrant warblers usually start up, the chiffchaffs, wood and willow warblers. But this morning there were no warblers. Perhaps it's been the cold arctic winds in the last week that has slowed them down getting here.

The chorus has male birds proclaiming their territories and females selecting the fittest males, the strongest singers, for mating. You don't even need a wood just step outside at dawn with a coffee to enjoy a free natural concert. In urban areas the chorus tends to start earlier to avoid the background noise of traffic and aircraft. This is a good example of evolution in real time!