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Sea Eagle swaps Scotland for the Emerald Isle   - Monday, January 9, 2006


Sea Eagle swaps Scotland for the Emerald Isle
Rare white tailed eagle crossed the Irish Sea for Christmas

A white-tailed (sea) eagle born on the Isle of Mull (Argyll) last summer has surprised conservationists by taking a Christmas break over the stormy Irish Sea in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

Known as ‘Valiant’ (after his ‘V’ marked wing-tag) to local people on Mull, the young eagle is only in his first year, and still earning his wings as Britain’s most impressive and formidable bird of prey. 

Like most adventurous youngsters however, he seemed keen explore the world, even if it did mean spending Christmas away from Scotland’s other young sea eagles – and his family.

A late developer and not fledging until August last summer – some time after the other eight young eagles on Mull – the intrepid eagle explorer was still staying close to his parents up until 4 December, when it’s thought severe winter weather may have aided his trip to Northern Ireland. He was spotted by locals in Altnahinch, on the Antrim Plateau, County Antrim, who saw his wing tag and noted it down.

Valiant’s festive vacation shows that is it often third time lucky in nature, after his parents lost their chicks and eggs in two earlier nesting attempts due to heavy rain – a tragedy captured in the Gordon Buchanan BBC Natural World film ‘Eagle Island’ based on Mull, shown in 2005.

A distant sighting in recent days on Mull suggests that Valiant may have returned to Scottish soil, so what of his next adventure?

RSPB Scotland’s Mull officer, Dave Sexton, said: “Valiant was a bit of a late developer but he certainly went for it over the Christmas break. Although he was a long way from home, wandering is what young sea eagles do best and I’m sure that he would have found plenty of food, sustenance and shelter in his new temporary location, as well as new sights and sounds on his holiday jaunt. If he has returned to Scotland he would probably have come back via Kintyre, Islay and Jura so if anyone has seen him en route, or any other wing tagged sea eagle, please let the RSPB know.”