Monday, 2 July 2018

White-tailed Eagle

White-tailed Eagle has been on the wish list for sometime but I couldn't really justify all that mileage for one bird. Fortunately a recent holiday had us stopping off at Portree on Skye and a trip out on the local boat Stardust gave me the views I had been hoping for.

Three birds were seen, the first two being a pair nesting on the cliffs a couple of miles south of Loch Portree. The views were a bit distant but we had the female sitting close to the nest and the male perched up about fifty metres away.

Distant shot of female with nest below left

Male close by

Further along the coast we had a second female

Second female, heavily blinged - tags, rings, and backpack transmitter

Second female swooping for fish

Second female with fish and state of the art backpack!!!

Heading over to Raasay

So where is the picture of the eagle snatching the fish from the water? - I didn't take it. You have the choice, watch the action or get the picture and I didn't want to miss seeing the eagle close up. Next time I will go for the picture.

Moving from one introduced species to another - the Golden Pheasants on Tresco. I doubt that there are any self sustaining populations left in the UK but the bird is still on the list so in theory still countable. On Tresco it is not really hard to find. There are a good number of un-ringed free to fly birds wandering around and they have little fear of humans.

Tresco is a privately owned fiefdom so I am not sure that the usual rules re the ringing of released birds apply and most sources suggest the numbers are regularly topped up with new birds.

It is a stunning bird to look at and as we were visiting the Abbey Gardens I was set on getting a picture. Slight problem, they have either had an argument with a lawn mower or the moult is in progress. Not exactly the picture I was looking for.

Golden Pheasnt in moult

The story of their arrival on Tresco is an interesting one. An exhibition of figureheads from wrecked ships had one for the tea clipper the Friar Tuck. In 1856 this ship was swept onto rocks whilst sheltering from a gale in St Marys Roads. Despite the best efforts of the customs men, large quantities of tea were acquired by the islanders  but it was also said to be carrying Chinese Pheasants which found their way onto Tresco.

If true it must have been a self sustaining population for a good period of time.

Other birds seen on my travels

Black Guillemot

Manx Shearwater

Razor Bill



Common Guillemot

Hooded Crow

I also picked up Shag and Dipper but couldn't get a decent picture of either. Oh! and a hint for other bird photographers - you don't have to chase the birds. Use field craft, stay in cover, and wait for the bird to come to you.

Should have spent more time birding!

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