Mull’s eagles have stars in their eyes

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The Mull Eagle Watch hide at Loch Frisa has soared to new heights by achieving a coveted four star award for being an excellent wildlife experience for tourists.

The award from VisitScotland has been given in recognition for an excellent standard of facilities and services with special mention made of the “passion and enthusiasm” of the eagle watch wildlife guides.

Receiving the four star tourism rating is very timely as all those involved in sea eagle reintroduction are celebrating 25 years of wild bred sea eagles in Scotland.

Stuart Maidment of Forestry Commission Scotland on Mull said:

“This is brilliant news for all those involved in the Mull Eagle Watch partnership.

“It is the first time that we have been rated by VisitScotland and our new status recognises how far we have come after ten years of running this wildlife viewing project.

“There are now 10 breeding pairs of white-tailed sea eagles on Mull and with 6,000 visitors each year, the eagles are bringing in £2million to the island’s economy. The project is a real success story.”

The Mull Eagle Watch partnership comprises Forestry Commission Scotland, RSPB Scotland, Mull & Iona Community Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage and Strathclyde Police.

Half of the income raised by the Loch Frisa eagle viewing hide itself goes straight back into the community to help local good causes. This year £13,000 was given out to local groups by Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham.

RSPB Scotland Officer Dave Sexton said: “It’s a tribute to the skill and enthusiasm of the rangers that the eagle hide achieved this excellent VisitScotland rating, but the stars of the show are the Loch Frisa white-tailed eagles which give many visitors a wildlife experience they will never forget.”

A vast array of other wildife can be seen from the viewing hide including buzzards, red-breasted merganser, goldeneye, goosander, red and black-throated divers. Golden eagles, buzzards, hen harriers, sparrowhawks, peregrines and kestrels are also regular visitors to the area.

Trips to the hide at Loch Frisa can be arranged by calling the Craignure Visitor Information Centre booking office on 01680 812556. The hide is open from Monday to Friday with trips at 10am and 1pm (closed Saturday and Sunday).

Notes to News Editors

1. Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Government’s forestry directorate. The Commission is also celebrating a four star award for their Huntly Peregrine watch viewing centre in Aberdeenshire.

2. The White-tailed Sea Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla, which was previously found breeding across the UK from the Isle of Wight to the far north of Scotland, was heavily persecuted in the 18th and 19th centuries. The last bird was shot on Shetland in 1918 and the species was then officially extinct in the UK.

3. A reintroduction programme between 1975 and 1985 saw 82 sea eagle chicks brought to the Isle of Rum from Norway. They were acclimatised and subsequently released when they were old enough. In 1985 a pair of Sea Eagles successfully fledged a chick on the Isle of Mull, marking the return of the eagles after 67 years. This year, people involved in the reintroductions are celebrating the 25th anniversary of that first fledging.

4. There are now nearly 50 pairs of Sea Eagles in Scotland, with 10 pairs on Mull. Last year 36 young Sea Eagles fledged across Scotland, including 10 on Mull. Another reintroduction project is now in its fourth year on the East coast of Scotland.

Stuart Maidment, Forestry Commission Scotland, 07831 132226
Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office 0131 314 6508.
David Sexton RSPB Scotland on 07818 803 382.