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The Patter of Tiny Claws…

Double celebration as Mull’s sea eagles hatch out

Mull’s celebrity white-tailed eagles, which have featured regularly on the BBC’s Springwatch and Autumnwatch programmes, have successfully hatched out two chicks.

But the famous pair, which nest near Loch Frisa, aren’t the only sea eagles celebrating the patter of tiny claws on the island this week. A second pair, which failed to breed last year after being disturbed by a photographer, have also hatched out their brood.  

The world’s only public viewing hide for sea eagles at Loch Frisa is now open to visitors, and has already had a record-breaking number of people visit in the first two weeks of the season. This weekend (Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 April, 12 pm – 3 pm) there is a free open weekend at the hide for all tourism providers in the area to experience a visit to this unique wildlife spectacle.

Dave Sexton, RSPB Scotland Mull Officer, said: “We’re delighted that both the Loch Frisa pair and the pair which were disturbed last year have hatched young. Those sea eagles are both approaching 30 years old and are the oldest in Scotland. They deserve better than the treatment they got last year and I’m thrilled they are now back in business. Sea eagles are now a vital part of Mull’s important tourism industry and we’ll do everything we have to in order to keep them safe from disturbance”.

White-tailed eagles have a 38-day incubation period during which they carefully protect their eggs. This year, the Loch Frisa pair’s nest was beset with drama, with intruding golden eagles, ravens and other young sea eagles all causing disturbance around the nest.

To avoid human disturbance, the community Mull Eagle Watch mounted a round-the clock-guard at the site, with additional help from Strathclyde Police, RSPB Scotland and Air Cadets from the 1730 (Lochaber) Squadron Air Training Corps.

Last spring a photographer was charged with ‘reckless disturbance’ of an eagle nest on Mull while the pair were incubating their eggs. He was later found guilty and charged £600 under the Nature Conservation Scotland Act (2004). This was the first such case for this species in the UK.

PC Finlay Christine, recently awarded ‘Wildlife Crime Enforcer of the Year’ by Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham, said: “The case last year showed that reckless behaviour by photographers and others around our protected wildlife on Mull will not go unpunished. It’s great to see this pair recover from their failure and hatch chicks again”.

The Mull Wildlife Watch public sea eagle hide at Loch Frisa is now open for the season. People can book onto ranger-led trips to see the eagles by calling 01688 302 038. Also visit www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/tracking/mulleagles.

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