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17 September 2014
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Island activities

Golden Eagle c/o PA Images

The UK's islands offer amazing opportunities for wildlife watching in the spring.

Islands contain a diverse selection of wildlife from sea birds to carpets of spring flowers in bloom.

On the search for Golden Eagles

Why not try your hand at two fantastic springtime nature spotting activities on UK islands:

* Golden and Sea Eagle watching on Skye
* Flower spotting in Jersey

Eagle watching

Sea Eagle (Image c/o RSPB)Skye on the west coast of Scotland boasts two of the best bird watching experiences in the country.

Why not try your hand at spotting Sea Eagles and Golden Eagles?

The Sea Eagle is the easiest of the two birds to see in the wild because it is less fearful of people and tends to live in more accessible coastal areas.

This is one of Scotland's biggest and rarest birds of prey with a six feet wingspan.

The birds are easy to spot with their distinctive brown body and white tail.

Look for them taking fish from the surface of the water and plunging to find food especially during spring when they make frequent trips to feed their chicks.

Another good place to see them is on rocky ledges which act as perches.

The Golden Eagle is harder to spot as it is less trusting of humans and tends to live in remote hill areas on the island.

Don't forget to take your binoculars for an eagle eyed view from a distance.

These birds love riding the thermals so the best time to spot them later in the day when the air has warmed up.

Stay in a fixed location when watching the Golden Eagle to ensure that the bird is not disturbed.

Look out for the birds on rocky perches and sitting on trees before swooping down.

Once spotted, it's easy to identify the Golden Eagle - its wings are narrower than the Sea Eagle and it has a longer tail length.

Flower feast

Common Orchid c/o Englsih Nature and WakelyJersey is a great place to see a diversity of wild flowers in spring because of its warm climate with few frosts.

The island lies on the cross-roads between the northern margin of Mediterranean plant species and at the southern margin of many north European plants.

Don't forget to take a flower identification book to check out the different species.

Amongst the many flowers are the Meadow Buttercup, the Cuckoo Flower, the Ragged Robin, and three or four types of orchid - Southern Marsh, Heath Spotted and Loose Flowered or Jersey Orchid.

The latter is a continental species not found on British mainland and features on Jersey ten pound note.

Rich purple in colour the orchid is easily distinguished from the others by its wide spaced flowers.

Look out for Prostrate Broom which clings to the ground with a profusion of yellow blooms.

Other flower species to look for include Sea Campion and Pink Thrift.

Take a magnifying glass with you to see the flowers at close quarters - and don't forget your digital camera for some stunning stills.

But one word of warning, don't pick the wild flowers or trample on them unnecessarily.

Photo credits

Photograph of Golden Eagle courtesy of PA Images.

Sea Eagle copyright of RSPB Images.

Orchid copyright of English Nature and Peter Wakely.



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