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Are you looking at my bird? Enterprising islander keeps an eagle eye on the neighbours

A white-tailed sea eagle chick in its nest on the isle of Ulva.
A white-tailed sea eagle chick in its nest on the isle of Ulva.

What do you do when a pair of white-tailed sea eagles make their nest by your home?

If you happen to be one of the six residents who live on the enterprising community-owned isle of Ulva, you set up a pop-up eagle watch in your garden.

A direct view to the nest can be enjoyed from the comfort of Barry George’s back yard at number 3 Bracadale, about half a mile from the pier.

A white-tailed sea eagle watch has been set up in an Ulva resident’s garden.

The adult eagles have moved into Ulva, which lies off the west coast of Mull, for the first time this year.

Ulva is only seven-and-a-half miles long and two-and-a-half miles wide.

The pair are currently feeding a large single chick aged about eight weeks old.

It will hopefully take its maiden flight at about three months old.

Ulva eagles

Ulva was brought into community ownership in 2018 with a deal worth around £4.5million after an agreement was reached between North West Mull Community Woodland Company and the previous owner James Howard.

The island was owned by the Howard family for more than 70 years.

An islander has set up a pop-up eagle watch in his garden.

RSPB Mull officer Dave Sexton said: “I spent weeks searching for this pair last winter in another part of their territory but failed completely.

“Then they were discovered nesting on Ulva and it’s fantastic that the community has established its first eagle watch for visitors.

“We’re very grateful for the donations for the RSPB but maybe next year if they’re back here; the island itself can benefit.

“It’s great to see sea eagles appreciated and giving something back.”

Mr George said he was having a coffee in the garden with friends when one of them spotted the majestic bird.

He said: “We looked up, got the binoculars out and sure enough saw a nest.

“About a quarter of a mile away there is a group of pine trees and on one of the pine trees you can see a nest.

An adult white-tailed eagle in flight.

“You could see the two adults with the naked eye, and with binoculars or a proper bird scope you could see the chick quite clearly. It was just sitting there looking back at you.

“Then one day it wasn’t in the nest. It was in the next tree over sitting on a branch. It goes back to the nest at night time.

Donations

Mr George has set up a donations box for RSPB Scotland, which his neighbours have already contributed £70 to.

He said: “I’ve been here for 25 years. I see eagles every day of my life. I prefer ravens – they are far more interesting to me.

People have said it has made their trip.”

Ulva development manager Wendy Reid

“Three or four weeks ago the ravens were having a dogfight with the eagles. It was utterly wild watching the eagles and the ravens fighting.”

Wendy Reid, Ulva development manager, said: “You can stand in Barry’s garden and see them.

“People have said it has made their trip and they have really appreciated getting such close views of the nest.

“Experts reckon it will fledge in the next couple of weeks.”

Ulva’s heyday

Ulva was once a thriving community of more than 600 residents during the 1800s.

In its heyday, it played host to an illustrious line of famous people including Beatrix Potter and Boswell and Johnson on their tour of Scotland.

Ulva.

Ulva is also famous as the birthplace of one of the founding fathers of modern Australia, Sir Lachlan Macquarie.

This connection draws many Australians each year to trace their island family heritage in the area.

Interest generated by the community ownership has attracted a number of people who wish to live on the island.

The local community company is currently renovating housing on Ulva and expects to be in a position to offer lets in the first half of next year.

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