Mull’s four year old Mara hits the headlines for a life lived entirely in public

Most infant’s get no privacy for the simple reason that they need feeding, supervision and tuition for a period at the very start of their lives.

But four year-old Mara, a male white tailed sea eagle chick hatched on Argyll’s Isle of Mull in 2008 has never escaped from the eagle eye of Big Brother.

He was quickly fitted with a satellite tag – part of a research programme involving other of his species – and must hear a certain song in his ears with every wing stroke: Every move you make; every breath you take, I’ll be watching y0u’.

He is the first to have been watched from hatching, through juvenile life and into maturity, finding his own mate and establishing his own nest. Every metre he has flown, every landing place, is known and recorded.

His flight pattern to date shows an abundance of time spent hunting on the wild and remote Ardnamurchan peninsula just across the Sound of Mull; with the aerial and land territory of the Small Isles and the Isles of Skye bis next faves in that order.

He has paid scant attention to the mainland of north Argyll and Lochaber – and he has ignored the isles of Tiree and Coll altogether. Not one single visit,.

He must have heard about the plan to site several hundred 200 metre tall ‘offshore’ wind turbines around Tiree’s south and east coasts and has voted with his wings, investing elsewhere.

The project is another feather, so to speak, in the cap of the collaborative island organisation that is Mull Eaglewatch, with expert attention from RSPB Mull officer, Dave Sexton and the support of a dedicated team of volunteers.

The sea eagles contribute hugely to the local economy of Mull and their sound establishment on the island and its surrounding areas means that the sight and sound of these huge birds with their 8 foot wingspan can now be seen and believed in Argyll skies.

Do we know how much Mara had to drink last night? He deserves a dram for the marketing coup he has given Mull to start 2013.

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9 Responses to Mull’s four year old Mara hits the headlines for a life lived entirely in public

    • No. Nor can anyone until this genuinely inappropriate and environmentally damaging plan is formally abandoned.
      So we make no apology for our satiric use of the phenomenon of Mara’s avoidance of visiting Tiree and Coll.

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  1. For all the people involved in Mull’s eagle watch, this is a fantastic moment.

    Sadly, this news broke just after the death of former PC Finlay Christine, who was a key mover in setting up the Operation Easter nest protection scheme with the various agencies and whose skills as a wildlife protection officer have benefitted many other areas.

    newsroom, I found your comments flippant, particularly as we are now into the year promoting natural Scotland and Argyll certainly has a great deal to offer.

    I am no wind turbine fan, either, but if the only comment made is the one above, then I’ve got to mark that down too.

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    • This is really sad news of Finlay Christine, whose contribution to the development of the Mull eagles programme was wholehearted and wide ranging, personally and professionally.

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    • Separating two very different matters, it is our own and many others’ concern for ‘natural Scotland’ that has sustained the long opposition to the massively invasive and out of scale planned Tiree ‘offshore’ wind farm.
      There is no inconsistency in our position.
      Celebrating the success of the supremely well managed Mull programme for the sea eagles that chose to make this island their home is of a piece with opposing a wind farm so vast that it will change the climate of Tiree and impact on its land and marine environments to the detriment of people and of marine species alike.
      Here recent surveys by SNH and others have confirmed the fact that basking sharks have made the area a major breeding ground; and that a threatened bird species, the Great Northern Diver, would be at risk from the planned turbines – to go to 200 metres high.
      If we made a joke of Mara having heard about the turbines as his reason for staying away from Tiree, it is fair to say that a joke is far less harmful than what is planned.
      Argyll would have a great deal less to offer to natural Scotland in so many ways if this gross plan were to go ahead. And, like you, we would mourn that loss.

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      • newsroom, I accept that you may not have been aware of the much loved and respected Finlay’s passing (and your comments about Finlay will be appreciated by all those who had the privilege to work with him and who knew him), in which case you might not have realised and will doubtless comprehend why I said your comment was flippant.

        I do not disagree with you regarding the potential damage of the Tiree Array on various marine and bird risks.

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  2. Newsroom: on a matter of fact, the Great Northern Diver is not classified as a “threatened bird species”. The internationally agreed IUCN ‘Red List’ classifies the species as of “Least Concern”, which means that, while there might be local problems, globally the species is doing OK and is therefore not “threatened”. I’ve seen exaggerated claims about this species being rare and vulnerable on websites opposing the Tiree Array, and think that exaggerating one’s case is self-defeating, because developers are always on the look out for factual errors in the opposition’s case – just as the opposition does when looking at the developer’s case. So while the seas of Tiree are obviously important for the species, it should not be described as “threatened”.

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    • Perhaps the issue is more that, with the area in question being such an important wintering habitat, there is the potential to create a threat?

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  3. Jade: that’s very likely true, but words applied to birds, including threatened, vulnerable, etc., have very precise, internationally agreed, meanings and if opponents of the Tiree Array want to remain credible, then it behoves them to use the words correctly.

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