It seems like a lifetime ago right now but back at the beginning of the year we were enjoying a fortnight’s break on the fabulous Isle of Mull. As always there was plenty of walking and wildlife watching to be had despite one of the coldest winters for many years refusing to release its icy grip. That’s not to say that there wasn’t plenty of sunshine of course but it was rarely ever what you’d call warm and towards the end of our stay we even experienced blizzard conditions and some epic snowfall. It was probably these harsh conditions which had led to the unusually high number of dead Sheep we’d encountered during our explorations, most well picked over but some still still looking very fresh. One in particular could only have been there for a day or so and with the possibility of eagles ever present I set up our trail camera on the off chance that something might turn up.
Four days later we were back and straight away you could sense that things had changed. For one the smell was absolutely horrendous and carried on the stiff breeze reached us long before the unfortunate source itself came into view. Or what was left of it anyway. During our absence it was clear that some of the local wildlife had been making the most of this food bonanza but to find out exactly what we would have to wait a little while longer. The walk back to the house was an anxious one with levels of anticipation only rising further as we were forced to wait whilst the video clips downloaded. That’ll teach me for not getting a camera with integrated screen! Would we have captured Raven’s and Hoodies or maybe, just maybe, something that little bit more golden.
As soon as we viewed that first clip we knew that we’d struck gold, quite literally.
We sat and watched in disbelief as not one but two different Golden Eagles arrived to feed, preen and pose, a spectacle I could barely dream of seeing let alone being fortunate enough to have caught on camera. Our excitement only built further as we got to brief footage of one of the Eagles taking flight, all set against that fantastic Mull backdrop.
The video above represents the best of what we saw on that day and even now, several months later, I get shivers watching it back. These birds are just so big and powerful yet remain frustratingly aloof for much of the time that any kind of close encounter such as this is one to be treasured. I just wish the footage resolution was a little higher so that we could see more plumage detail but that just gives me something to aim for next time we’re up.
Of course when times are harsh opportunities like this are not to be missed and once the Golden Eagles had taken their fill the rest of Mull’s scavengers arrived. First in were several Hooded Crows followed by a brief visit from one of the local Ravens before, quite unexpectedly it has to be said, a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls rocked up. Even Sheep weren’t averse to passing through, apparently oblivious to the sad fate befallen one of their brethren.
After years of trying it’s immensely satisfying to have had these successes and if anything it just increases my desire to spend more time out amongst Mull’s peaks and coves searching for and recording the wildlife found there. Even after over a decade of visits its clear that we’ve barely scratched the surface.