Mull Sea Eagles - The Young Generation
On Springwatch tonight, Iolo Williams travels to the Isle of Mull to meet the RSPB's David Sexton and discover how white-tailed sea eagles are returning to the isles.
Here's David with a personal account of their work in Mull and we'll post the film here shortly.
Although we're focussing on Fingal and Iona, a new pair of Mull's awesome white-tailed eagles this year, 20 years ago a young chick in another nest had recently hatched and was well on her way to a successful fledging - and a life that would ultimately touch the lives of millions.
Her name was Frisa and she came from an amazing pedigree being the offspring of the eagle legend that was Blondie - the Norwegian white-tailed eagle who raised the first Scottish chick in 1985. About 5 years after she'd fledged, in 1997 Frisa paired up on Mull with a handsome young wanderer from the Isle of Skye and they've been together ever since. They are the eagle celebrity A-listers Skye and Frisa who were beamed live into the living rooms of millions on the first night of the first ever Springwatch in 2005. Many have visited Mull since to capture a glimpse of them soaring over the summer hills.
White-tailed sea eagle by Iain Erskine
There are many aspects of my RSPB job that I love but probably the most satisfying element is being able to follow the fortunes of generations of white-tailed eagles as they slowly but surely recolonise old haunts and rightfully establish themselves again within the British landscape. There are some pairs on Mull and the Scottish mainland where one of the adults is a great-great-great granddaughter or son of Blondie. They might all look alike to some people but sometimes I see the sunlit glint of the Matriarch in their eagle eyes.
Pair of white-tailed sea eagles by Iain Erskine
Just last week we ringed another generation of young white-tailed eagles. This spring has been kind to them on the west coast and they're already big and strong, exercising developing wings. In another six weeks they too will take that mighty first leap from their tree or cliff-top eyries and begin their lives soaring and drifting across Scotland - and maybe further afield. We wish them well, the Class of 2012, on their journey as they face the many dangers both here in the UK and beyond.
White-tailed sea eagle chicks by Justin Grant
And as I watch them soar away, I'll think of Blondie and of friends and the treasured times we spent watching her; I'll wonder how Skye and Frisa are faring this year and what of their pioneering Autumnwatch 2008 chick Mara whose life has been mapped by satellite? This year's young generation belong here. In another five years time, it will be their turn.