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A rare white-tailed eagle saved from the rising tide on Mull’s coast is now thriving on Rum months after being rescued.
In a joint effort by the Scottish SPCA and RSPB Scotland the bird, also known as a sea eagle, has been treated and rehabilitated at its National Wildlife Rescue Centre at Alloa.
Scotland’s animal welfare charity was alerted to the bird after he was found dazed and struggling to fly in October last year by a member of the public, Jamie Ramsay, and then rescued by Dave Sexton, RSPB Scotland’s Mull Officer.
Scottish SPCA National Wildlife Rescue Centre assistant manager April Sorley explained: ‘White-tailed sea eagles are one of the rarer species that come to our centre, and always cause a bit of excitement.
‘He came in to our care on October 17, and was immediately checked over by our veterinary team.
‘He was underweight so we weighed him regularly to check his progress and gave him the time he needed to regain his strength for life in the wild.
‘He was ringed and released on November 6 back at Treshnish Farm, where he was originally found, with the help of islanders.
‘Knowing a wild animal is doing well after being in our care is the most rewarding aspect of our work at the National Wildlife Rescue Centre.’
When the eagle was found, Mr Ramsay called the RSPB for assistance. He said: ‘I am so pleased to see that the white-tailed sea eagle I found on Mull has been spotted alive and well on the Isle of Rum.
‘I stumbled across the eagle while on a walk and immediately noticed something was wrong.
‘The bird managed to take to the air but something told me to check he had flown safely to a rocky outcrop. I then spotted the eagle about 200m out to sea and in obvious distress. The eagle used his wings to swim back to shore.
‘The next morning I returned at first light and luckily found him huddled next to a rock, drenched and clearly exhausted.
‘I noticed that the eagle was below the tide line and the tide was coming back in. I tried to usher him up to higher ground but he seemed to have lost his fight.
‘The Scottish SPCA was unable to attend and I managed to get in touch with Dave from the RSPB. He was soon on his way and successfully rescued the now clearly-exhausted eagle.
‘Seeing the image of that same eagle alive and happy, and most importantly in the wild where he belongs, fills me with so much joy.
‘I didn’t know much about sea eagles before but now I have learned their history I can appreciate just how special that bird is!’
The eagle has recently been seen on Rum, around 50km from the site where he was released at the beginning of November.
Mr Sexton added: ‘When Jamie and I rescued the eagle, I think he was probably just an hour or so away from drowning as he was cold, wet and exhausted, and couldn’t move from where he was with the tide rising.
‘He didn’t have the energy to resist capture. Maybe he was relieved. We rushed him to Oban on the CalMac ferry and into the care of the Scottish SPCA. To see him now feeding at a deer carcass on the camera trap set by Sean Morris on Rum over four months later is just wonderful.
‘He’s clearly thriving and, with all the bad news in the world just now, it really helped to lift my spirits to see this young eagle surviving a tough winter, back in the wild where he belongs.’