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An urgent rescue mission to save the famous BBC sea eagle chick after it fell 30 feet from its nest has had a successful ending.
The 8 week old sea eagle chick became a TV star on the BBC Springwatch programme and is currently being watched from around the world on a new webcam on the Isle of Mull.
The young eagle was observed on the nest at the weekend but by Sunday evening the nest was empty. Worried eagle watchers raised the alarm when nothing stirred on the nest.
On Monday, two expert tree climbers from Forestry Commission Scotland joined with RSPB Scotland to search for the chick. They soon heard it calling for food and found it in the undergrowth.
After a thorough health check the chick was confirmed to be in good condition, despite its large fall from the nest.
The chick was then hoisted back into its tree top eyrie and given some prime local Mull produce of rabbit and salmon until its parent eagles returned.
RSPB Scotland’s Dave Sexton said:
“Forestry Commission Scotland’s webcam helped us to determine that something had gone badly wrong at the nest and we managed to launch the rescue bid.
“The chick was too young to leave the nest with at least another four weeks to go before it can properly fly. On the ground they are vulnerable to predators and may not be able to get to food.
“The fact she tried to bite us was, if a little ungrateful, a good sign that she was fit and well!”
John Taylor, Conservation Ranger with Forestry Commission Scotland added:
“We are so relieved to have the chick back safe in the nest. It was an urgent rescue mission and climbing the tree was quite tough but we were all focussed on making sure the chick was reunited to its parents as soon as possible.”
The reason for the chick’s fall is still not clear. It may have been flapping its wings for practice and fallen off accidentally. Reports on social media had claimed an intruder eagle may have been near the nest which may have resulted in the chick falling. Video footage is going to be looked over in time to try and find the reason.
In the meantime, Forestry Commission Scotland’s conservation team has erected a small wooden barrier on part of the nest to try and prevent the chick from falling again.
The chick can be viewed on the webcam, believed to be a UK first, at http://scotland.forestry.gov.uk/visit/mull/mull-eagle-watch or www.carnyx.tv
Notes to news editors
1. Forestry Commission Scotland is part of the Scottish Government's Environment & Forestry Directorate www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland
2. For news, events and recreation information log on to www.facebook.com/enjoyscotlandsforests For Twitter: www.twitter.com/fcscotland
3. Tha FCS ag obair mar bhuidheann-stiùiridh coilltearachd Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus a' riaghladh nan 660,000 heactairean ann an Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta, a' dìonadh, a' cumail smachd air agus a' leudachadh nan coilltean gus buannachdan a thoirt dha coimhearsnachdan, an eaconamaidh agus, ag obair an aghaidh atharrachadh gnàth-shìde. www.forestry.gov.uk/scotland