31st: I played hide and seek with 2 eagles on the Cruachan, one of which I was a White-tailed Eagle but I only had a glimpse. I had another brief glimpse through the camera lens and was surprised to see when I downloaded it that it was a juvenile Golden Eagle. It must have been a female as it was huge. Juvenile Golden Eagle at Kargil, Ladakh, sorry Treshnish, Mull.
Ben More again.
30th: 1 Merlin at Haunn field.
29th: In the evening I went up to the sitheans. As I arrived I could see the male Golden Eagle on the Cruachan but he disappeared whilst I went around the knoll. Soon after there were also two Short-eared Owls (showing aggressive behaviour) on the Cruachan/Sitheans.
I forgot to mention that the probable Little Auk on Calgary beach on the 17th (‘probable’ only in that I got the name second hand as ‘auk’), was definitely a Little Auk.
Jill & Chris Taylor staying at West cottage found it and took photographs which I they have kindly allowed me to post here.
I like this one as it shows the size well.
Photos from the sitheans:
Coll and South Uist.
Where Coll and Tiree meet, with Cnoc an t-Sidhein in the foreground.
27th: Over the last 3 days spent 17 hours in the hide plus a couple of hours on the sitheans on the previous day but the Golden Eagle pair were only around on one of those days and didn’t come to the deer carcass. On the 25th they were flying around the sitheans and Cruachan as I arrived to set up the hide but the female at least looked like she had a full crop. They disappeared and only came back in the evening when they came closer (I could hear them calling) and then landed on the Cruachan.
The wind has been from the south-east or east south-east.
I was leaving the hide an immature White-tailed Eagle flew from Cnoc an t-Sidhein around the Cruachan. For better or worse it didn’t go to the deer carcass.
A pair of Lapwings near Ensay Burn cattle-grid.
Poor light and fence prevented good shots but these are my best Lapwing photos to date.
26th: 1 Short-eared Owl at the sitheans.
25th: Pair of Golden Eagles on Cruachan Treshnish, 1 ring-tailed Hen Harrier on Cruachan Treshnish.
23rd: 1 ring-tailed Hen Harrier at Haunn.
21st: Spent 3 hours in the hide but no luck (south-easterly wind).
1 male Goosander on Loch Carnain an Amais, Mishnish, yellow-tagged C White-tailed Eagle over Mornish Schoolhouse.
20th: Erected a hide near the deer carcass and spent 7 hours waiting in cold wind with 8 layers of clothes (still cold) but no eagles (south-easterly wind).
The Red Deer is behind the hide on left.
These below the only visitors although some wing flapping above the hide was probably a Raven.
Hooded Crows. Video best click on HD on cog icon.
1 Short-eared Owl on the sitheans at dusk and Leena flushed one near the Ensay Burn nest area in the early afternoon.
19th: a good eagle day today unfortunately the light wasn’t great.
It started out with the pair of Golden Eagles low over Treshnish Old Schoolhouse along with a pre-colony flock of alarmed Common Gulls. I only managed a couple of shots. The wind was from the east but had a bit of north in it so I thought they might return but they didn’t so later I decided to walk up to the sitheans. Even before I got there the male appeared and started sky diving so I knew the female couldn’t be far off and sure enough she also joined him.
They sailed off towards Reudle Schoolhouse so I sat on the sitheans and waited for them to return. Meanwhile some Hooded Crows were hanging around in front of me and I realised there might a carcass because this seemed to be a repeat of the day before yesterday i.e. Goldies and Hoodies on the sitheans. I didn’t go to look for a carcass as I was pretty sure the Goldies could see me (although I couldn’t see them) and even though I was sure they knew I was there I always feel the less movement and the lower profile the better.
An hour later they returned but the female mostly sat on the Cruachan whilst the male soared around the sitheans for a while,
perched on the lowest sithean hillock overlooking the rabbit field near Ensay farmhouse,
had what looked like an attempt to go for a rabbit there but it didn’t amount to anything, circled above me again and then went to join the female on the Cruachan.
Then an immature White-tailed Eagle (some adult tail feather emerging) and also with a full crop came from the Cruachan direction and flew over me.
At first the Goldies paid it no attentions but as it came over me they caught up with it and appeared to escort it out of their territory. I lost track of the sea-eagle as it headed towards Beinn Bhuidhe but later it, or another, was back over the dry lochan where all three eagles soared together. There was no direct confrontation but I think in eagle language the Goldies were telling it to clear off.
The pair eventually ended back on the Cruachan and as I was watching them the male dived down wings folded straight towards me and landed not 50m away. Ah-hah so there was a carcass. I took this as a great honour, for the male to trust me enough to land and feed so close by. I am sure he must have seen me.
Video best click on cog icon and choose HD.
When he flew off it was 6.30 so too dark for action shots but this was the best.
So the events of the today and 17th were explained, eagles with full crops, Goldies, Hoodies and Sea-eagle on the sithean. Nothing to do with wind direction after all (although I am still playing with that hypothesis) but a dead young Red Deer.
This was my initial doubt about the wind theory first suggested by a neighbour; if there is a carcass or a major source of food for example the Common Gull colony, then the birds will be there no matter what the wind direction but slowly slowly I am coming around to the wind theory. When the wind is from the north we tend to see the Goldies more often on the northern coastal strip. On the internet I can’t go into details about local Golden Eagle territories but right now I am testing the hypothesis that Goldies will usually patrol the part of their territory that is in the direction of the wind. So far I am finding it a very useful guide.
Female Golden Eagle with Rum behind.
male Golden Eagle with Ensay-Reudle road and Ben More behind.
Also 1 ring-tailed Hen Harrier over Reudle bog.
18th: Went to look for the presumed Little auk but couldn’t find it.
9 Lapwings at Langamull, about 15 Skylarks at the Ensay Burn hair-pin bend cattle troughs,
the male Golden Eagle at Ard Dubh Bhurg (same spot as last week) and the road summit. He was still busy soaring around even with a full crop. Is it territorial or just for fun?
1 Black-throated Diver off Calgary beach.
Rock Pipit at Calgary beach.
17th: Aurora borealis tonight. I had an e-mail alert at dusk and it was bright in the sky from at least 22.00 until 23.30 peaking at about 23.20. Luckily the sky cleared for a while. See here for forecast updates.
I had to go in to get a new battery when it was at its peak.
Carolyne’s photo here puts me to shame.
I was woken up by some loud bird calls which stopped after I woke but were probably Common Gulls reconnoitring their colony but also possibly a Golden Eagle. A Song Thrush appears to have integrated the call of the Golden Eagles into its repertoire.
There was a north wind but the eagles didn’t show so I walked behind our house and sure enough the male Golden Eagle was on the sitheans.
He flew to the road summit and circled with his mate for a while.
Soon afterwards the female flew very hurriedly to the nest area. Golden Eagles rarely ‘hurry’ and I couldn’t see the reason. No intruder that I could see. When I got home I could see why. She was carrying nesting material. it looks like sheep’s wool.
At least 3 Short-eared Owls and 1 Hen Harrier in the Ensay Burn area, 1 Merlin at the sitheans and 1 Dipper between the stone road bridges at Ensay Burn.
I have heard there is probably a dead Little Auk near or on Calgary beach. Leena was told by an experienced birdwatcher and heard the word auk so I presume that is what he meant but will confirm later. I have never seen a Little Auk so even a dead one has got me twitching.
16th: 1 immature White-tailed Eagle flew over Treshnish boathouse to Treshnish Point. The north wind brought at least one of the Golden Eagles to Cruchan Treshnish and Beinn Dhuill and Leena saw the pair in the evening over Treshnish wood. Yesterday I heard that the yellow tagged White-tailed Eagles are finally building their first nest. This pair is 7 years old!
13th: A northern wind (the first for weeks) meant (in theory) just waiting for the Golden Eagles to appear. Sure enough after 3 hours they appeared. They were seen off throughout the rest of the day.
This Blackbird is often in our seaweed mulch searching for grubs.
12th: Little Grebe at Croig.
11th: 3 Siskins, 5 Fieldfares, 1 Mistle Thrush, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker near Sunipol turn off, Hooded Crows dropping small shellfish on rocks at Langamull, 1 ring-tailed Hen Harrier at Langamull, 5 Purple Sandipers at Lainne Sgeir, Calgary.
10th: woke up out of a dream about getting out of bed to and seeing a Golden Eagle to actually get out of bed and first seeing a Golden Eagle (literally before taking one step!). It wasn’t calling so it didn’t wake me and I didn’t see it at all during the day until late in the afternoon when the pair were skydiving at Ard Dubh Bhurg. An immature White-tailed Eagle appeared at exactly the spot where the eagles were skydiving so perhaps there was a carcass there. c20 Skylarks at Ensay hair pin bends and 1 Woodcock at stone bridge below Reudle Schoolhouse, 1 Gannet in mouth of Calgary bay (my first of the year).
9th: At dusk 1 Golden Eagle seen briefly in conifers in Treshnish wood.
7th: 1 Purple Sandpiper at Lainne Sgeir, Calgary, 1 ring-tailed Hen Harrier at Bennan/Frachadil, Calgary, 2 Fieldfares at Calgary cemetery.
5th: Had to go to Oban. On the way I saw a Buzzard carrying off a Rabbit on Calgary machair.
There was an Otter near Craignure Pier, 1 Canada Goose at the rocks off Lismore Lighthouse and at least 14 Turnstones at Craignure promenade. I was surprised to see one scavenging left over food like a Pigeon. At one time it was right up to me feet.
3rd: My first Pied Wagtail of the year at Kilninian where there were also 3 Mistle Thrushes.
This Rock Dove looks wild although it allowed close approach in the car which is suspicious.
I have never managed to get close to wild birds on the cliffs. It was at the Treshnish turn-off with 2 other birds, one of which was much darker and which I presumed was a feral pigeon but now I am thinking it may have been a juvenile.
2nd: male Golden Eagle over Treshnish wood.
1st: 1 male Hen Harrier, 1 Sparrowhawk and pair of Golden Eagles around Treshnish Old Schoolhouse.