Tuesday, 29 September 2015

White-tailed Eagles (I)

At long last I managed to get a couple of days out on Mull Charter's Lady Jayne to get up close and personal with some White-tailed Eagles. I met up with Martin and Alex at Ulva ferry, along with 10 other souls who were making the three hour trip. There was hardly a cloud in a perfect blue sky and hardly a breath of wind,  conditions were just perfect, would we see an eagle?

Well just ten minutes out into Loch Tuath we were set upon by our first bird, total excitement as it circled the boat, eyeing up the fish that had been thrown as an offering. Now, before any birder says that this isn't real birding and to the photographers that, like me, thought that it was a doddle to capture these birds - think again sunshine. These birds are not performing to order, sure they recognise the boat and they get a free offering, albeit a small one, but they can totally ignore you as they did on my second trip. Martin has a very responsible attitude, after all it is in his interest, the birds get a feed once a day and that's it - they definitely have no dependency on the boat. The bird made two strikes - presumably a fish for itself and one for the youngster and it was all over.

We made our way up to the top of Loch na Keal, where a couple of days previous I and lots of other eagle watchers had found four birds perched in the trees. Two adults and two juveniles had been active but today - not a sign. In fact the only excitement during the journey up and down the loch was provided by a flyby Gannet.   It looked as though we had had our only visit but as we turned for Ulva we were "bounced" by two birds, an adult and what appeared to be a juvenile. It doesn't matter how prepared you and your camera are, the birds will always confuse the issue - choosing to dive out of the sun or whatever condition that will have you cursing your luck. I never managed to capture a fish pick-up in focus - I can assure you -  it ain't easy!

Anyway here are my offerings, most of them taken with a lot of luck and a bit of judgement.

Oops!  Just a little too close.

On the way in we were treated to a swim by of a small Otter, the perfect end to a perfect trip.




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