Mull Eagle Watch and Operation Easter are underway for the season as eagles and other protected species begin the process of egg laying.
Every year, the local community of Mull, RSPB and Police Scotland join forces to ensure the island’s white-tailed and golden eagles in particular are allowed to nest successfully, without being disturbed by human activities.
In the past, the eagles have been targeted by egg thieves and irresponsible wildlife photographers and there have been two prosecutions for illegal nest photography in recent years.
A special licence from Scottish Natural Heritage is required to photograph eagles and other Schedule 1 species.
While the threat posed by egg collecting has declined in recent years – though it hasn’t disappeared completely – the damage caused by over-zealous photographers has increased.
Community volunteers, experienced visitors and the police, in liaison with the RSPB have become essential tools in keeping Mull’s wildlife safe from harm.
The best way to see white-tailed eagles in the wild is by visiting the two Mull Eagle Watch public viewing hides.
These were awarded five stars by VisitScotland as an “exceptional wildlife experience” and also graded 5 stars by Trip Advisor.
Dave Sexton, the RSPB’s officer on Mull said: “White-tailed eagles are generally faring well these days and that is in a large part due to the vigilance and support of the local community and Police Scotland.
“But we will never become complacent as the threat from some photographers and egg collectors is still very real, so we are constantly on our guard.
“If anyone sees anything suspicious or has concerns, please call 101 to report it and we look forward to welcoming lots of visitors to the two new Eagle Hides this summer.”
Details about trips to view the eagles responsibly can be obtained by calling VisitScotland in Craignure on 01680 812 556.
Mull Eagle Watch is a unique wildlife protection and viewing partnership, involving the Mull and Iona Community Trust, RSPB, Police Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland.