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A community-owned forest on Mull has had a double reason to celebrate with the news that its nesting white-tailed eagles have hatched two chicks.
Rangers at the north-west Mull community eagle watch at West Ardhu, near Dervaig, have now confirmed that the eagles known as Hope and Star are feeding twins.
Eagle ranger Debby Thorne managed to take pictures of the two chicks which are the first images of this year’s brood.
The eagles have had to contend with a cold and wet spring with frequent gales but their nest tree has withstood everything nature has thrown at it.
The community forest, which is managed by Tilhill Forestry on behalf of North West Mull Community Woodlands Company Ltd, has set aside an area of forestry for the eagles to nest in. The eagles continued to nest successfully in the area despite ongoing forestry operations.
In recent years the company has run a public viewing project where visitors can book trips with a ranger to be taken on a guided walk to view the eagles at their nest from a safe distance. Income from the trips helps to fund local community projects in the area.
Ranger Debby Thorne said: ‘It took a while to confirm that we have two chicks this year as sometimes only one chick’s head is visible at a time. One up, one down and then the other way round.
‘It was impossible to be sure until suddenly both heads popped up at once. It was such a thrill to see them both thriving and both adults are now having to work twice as hard to feed and care for them.’
The chicks will be in the nest for another two months growing at a fast pace until fully fledged and ready to fly at 10 to 12 weeks old.
At the Mull Eagle Watch observation point at Craignure Golf Course, rangers are continuing to achieve a ‘double eagle’ and are spotting lots of ‘birdies’ on their daily coastal wildlife walks.
The sea eagles there lost their eggs in a scuffle with an intruding eagle last month but have not laid again.
RSPB Mull officer Dave Sexton said: ‘The golf course eagles Scalla and Anna haven’t gone far despite their misfortune so are still being seen along with regular golden eagles, hen harriers, shore birds, seals and now otters so it’s a great little trip and it’s helping to support the Craignure Golf Club where golf has been played since 1895. Plenty of eagles but no albatross yet!’
Trips to both sites can be booked via VisitScotland on 01680 812 556. Mull Eagle Watch is a species protection and public viewing partnership with Mull and Iona Community Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forest Enterprise Scotland, Police Scotland and the RSPB.