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Sea eagles normally try to steal food from otters, but these two islanders appear to be the best of friends

The sea eagle and the otter have been spotted hanging out together on Mull.
The sea eagle and the otter have been spotted hanging out together on Mull.

With echoes of the owl and the pussycat going to sea, on this occasion it was the eagle and the otter.

Despite a lack of social graces between the two species – sea eagles normally try to steal prey which has been caught by otters, and the otter is leaving droppings in one picture – this pair seem to be the best of friends.

While visiting Mull, Dave Miller from Northumberland managed to take these photographs of an adult white-tailed sea eagle and an otter on a skerry in Loch na Keal on the west of the island.

Chilling on a rock in Loch Na Keal.

The two seem completely relaxed in each other’s company. Even to the extent of the otter at one point “sprainting” or leaving droppings on the rock to mark its territory.

It’s certainly in keeping with the theme of bad manners, but it shows that the otter certainly feels comfortable.

Scavenging

Sea eagles often follow otters in the hope of scavenging a fish, eel or octopus which the otters have caught.

It’s known as “kleptoparasitism” where one species depends on another for its food.

Another impolite habit that sea eagles have, is that they will also chase gannets until they regurgitate their recent mackerel catch and the eagle gets a free meal.

The sea eagle and the otter look quite relaxed in each other’s company.

Dave Sexton, The RSPB’s Mull officer, said: “I see otters with sea eagles a lot on Mull but the otter is usually trying to give the eagle the slip and keep its fishy catch.

“These lovely photos by Dave Miller show just how compatible the two species can be together.

“The relationship between sea eagles and otters has long been recognised and occurs across their range. Both species are widespread on Mull but it’s still a treat to see them like this.”

‘A glimpse into the distant past’

Recently on Mull, 16 white-tailed sea eagles were spotted in one location at Loch Beg.

This was an unusual situation, but Mr Sexton said it gave “a glimpse into the distant past.”

He explained that such a sight will become common again as the population recovers.

There are 22 pairs of sea eagles on Mull, descended from three reintroduction schemes of Norwegian birds beginning in 1975.

Sea eagles were persecuted to extinction in 1918 but are now slowly reclaiming their former haunts.

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