Sea eagles a soaring success on Mull

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White-tailed sea eagles are thriving on Mull with 10 chicks fledging from seven nests in last year’s breeding season.

Under the Mull Eagle Watch partnership, there are now 10 pairs of the “flying barn doors” on Mull, attracting 6,000 visitors to the eagle hide and £2 million each year to the local economy.

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of wild bred sea eagles in Scotland and ten years of the Mull public viewing project, Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham visited the island today to see the magnificent birds and meet the local community. (Media invited: see notes)

She said:

“It is great news that these amazing birds are thriving on Mull. What is also brilliant is that the local community is directly benefiting through green tourism.

“This year marks the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity and the Mull Eagle Watch project is a perfect example to showcase Scotland’s wildlife at its best.”

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 eagle viewing hide is put straight back into the community to help local good causes. During the visit today, Ms Cunningham handed over the latest cash boost of £10,000 from the partnership towards the community.

James Hilder, Chief Executive of the Mull & Iona Community Trust commented:

"Mull Eagle Watch has given a great boost to the communities of Mull & Iona, as it allows the Community Trust to distribute thousands of pounds to local youth groups, sports clubs, societies as well as contributing to other environmental and educational initiatives locally.

“We see the funds generated by the hide as a key piece in the funding jigsaw for our many voluntary groups and I look forward to the next 10 ten years"

The viewing hide is based on Forestry Commission Scotland’s land at Loch Frisa.  Bookings have been increasing year on year and local wildlife tourism businesses found on the island say the eagles are the top species people want to see.

Stuart Maidment, the Commission’s forester on Mull said:

“Scotland’s national forests and woodlands are a safe haven for many amazing creatures but none as magnificent as the white-tailed sea eagle. With a wing span of over 8 foot, once you’ve seen one you won’t ever forget it!

“The Commission is keen to help support rural develop of this nature and we are very pleased that the viewing hide is becoming increasingly popular and that local businesses are also benefiting.”

Overall in Scotland, 36 chicks successfully fledged from 46 pairs of white-tailed eagles.

RSPB Scotland Mull Officer Dave Sexton said:

"White-tailed eagles have been nesting successfully in Scotland now for 25 years. They are part of the landscape and can bring significant economic benefits to rural communities - some £2 million a year comes to Mull from visitors coming to see them.

“It's wonderful that through the Eagle Fund the eagles are also giving back to local good causes. It's an example that could be followed across Scotland and the UK."

During the Minister’s visit to Mull, she also joined Forestry Commission Scotland staff to meet with the North West Mull Community Woodland Company (NWMCW).  The Company purchased Langamull and West Ardhu woodlands in the north west of the isle of Mull under the Commission’s National Forest Land Scheme, with assistance from the Scottish Land Fund. 

The NWMCW bought the woodlands to help provide benefits for the community including affordable housing, improved access, business opportunities and the use of the woodlands as an education resource.

Notes to news editors

1. Media are invited to attend the visit:

11.30-12.30: Arrive at Eagle Hide, Loch Frisa, where a cheque will be presented to the local community by Roseanna Cunningham.
12.50-13.50: Arrive Salen Church Hall  - meet local community groups: cheques presented to local community and discussions with Mull & Iona Community Trust.

1420 – 1520: Arrive Dervaig Church Hall: meet with North West Mull Community Woodland Company: presentations on community work.

Ferry departs for Oban at 17.00

2.   Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Government’s forestry directorate

3. For more information on White-tailed sea eagles and the viewing facility at Loch Frisa log on to and The white tailed sea eagle's main diet consists of fish, sea birds and ducks although they are known to scavenge too. Research on Mull shows that sea eagles have had very little impact on lamb mortality levels on the hill. SNH is currently working with farmers and crofters to agree best husbandry practice in areas such as Mull where sea eagles are present.

4. Media enquiries:

Environment Minister and Forestry Commission Scotland: Steve Williams, Forestry Commission Scotland press office 0131 314 6508 or 07771 730 509.

RSPB Scotland: James Reynolds, RSPB Media relations on 0131 311 6505.

James Hilder, Chief Executive of Mull & Iona Community Trust, 07833 656 361.