February 2010

On the 28th there was at least 1 Golden Eagle above Treshnish lochan, a male Bullfinch near Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and 8 Wood Pigeons in Treshnish wood.
I have not been keeping track of the satellite tagged Loch Garten Ospreys lately but I see now that Mallachie has not sent back any data since 25th of November. It only means the transmitter is not working and she could be fine, we may never know. The same thing happened to Nethy last year. I will not post regular comments on these or the Mull White-tailed Eagles as you can track the birds and read the RSPB blogs yourself. I will however post any exciting news, for example the day Rothes starts returning north, as this will hopefully be the first successful return of one of the four tagged chicks but as she is only a yearling she may not return until next year. On the last date with precise location details on the 23rd of November Mallachie was in the Gambia and Rothes was in Guinea Bissau, close to the border with Senegal. Rothes is most recently just over the border in Senegal in the area to the south of the Gambia.
To summarise the last few months of the Mull White-tailed Eagles: Brèagha has wondered a lot, she flew briefly into the central highlands as far as to the east of the southern end of Loch Ericht just to the north of Loch Ranoch. She also spent a lot of time on Skye and Raasay and Rona. She returned briefly to Mull just recently on the 2nd of February but is now back on Morvern where she was on the 21st. Morvern and Ardnamurchan are the favourite area of her brother Mara but he has also explored a little with visits to Coll around the new year and is according to the latest data on Rum where I presume his grandparents Blondie and her mate were first re-introduced. Last years chick Venus has only recently left Mull with a tour of the area just the south of Oban with a brief visit to north Jura. Her brother Oran has been from the start extremely adventurous and has even been as far as County Ballymoney, Northern Ireland via Kintyre. A dangerous place to visit; nine White-tailed Eagles from the re-introduction scheme in Northern Ireland have been killed since the project started two years ago. Oran is now, according to the most recent data, back on Jura.
On the 27th there was still a good 3 inch layer of snow at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse and with it two unusual birds. The first was a male Bullfinch beside the farm-road and the second was a pair of Common Crossbills on the conifers in Treshnish wood. Bullfinch is scarce at Treshnish but this winter with the unusually cold weather we have had four sightings. I was hoping to see some Crossbills this year, as the conifers have a good crop of cones but I thought the chances were slim as it has not been recorded in our 10x10km square before, so it was a real delight to see these ‘parrots’ of Britain. Common Crossbill was present in only one 10x10km square in mid Mull in The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland (1986), so obviously many leave the island for the winter. The birds seen today may be returning birds or possibly long distance migrants.
On the 26th there were 2 Golden Eagles above Treshnish lochan. One had a very straggly tail but I did not see them together at that moment so I am unsure of whether it was the male or the female. There were 3 Redwings at the fort between Lainne Sgeir and Calgary beach and an Otter to the west of Lainne Sgeir, Calgary bay with possibly the same one on the east side of the rocks about 30 minutes later
On the 24th there was a Common Shelduck near the stream at Calgary beach. This is the earliest I have seen them in this area as they appear to leave here in the winter. the previous earliest date was at Calgary on 28/02/2006. The Snowdrops are flowering in Treshnish wood and appear to have been flowering for at least 3 or 4 days.
[Gap whilst I was away]
On the 2nd there was a pair of Golden Eagles over Treshnish Old Schoolhouse
with one of them calling but I wasn’t sure if the male or the female was calling. I took a photo of the calling bird but it did not show the id. pointers I needed.
On the 1st a Golden Eagle was heard calling over Treshnish wood. In the evening 1 Winter Moth came to a lighted window at Treshnish Old Schoolhouse. It is very likely that the flying bird that SC saw on about the 2nd of January by the small burn running below the reeds below Haunn cottages was a Water Rail. The habitat fits perfectly and the cold weather would have exposed it to more open areas. This species was heard by LG&CG in the same area on 15/08/2007. It is occasionally heard in the Dervaig area.

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