THE GLENELG AND ARNISDALE TOURIST INFORMATION GUIDE

 

 

Victor and Orla, the famous Glenelg Sea Eagles

 

White Tailed Eagles (AKA Sea Eagles)

White Tailed Eagle over Kyle Rhea straits White tailed eagles are the UK’s (and Europe’s) largest bird of prey weighing up to 7 kgs and with a wingspan of up to 2.5 metres. They are truly spectacular birds and an unforgettable sight.

 

Extinction

The white tailed eagle was forced into extinction by hunting and egg collecting in the early part of the 20th century. Once a numerous and common bird across the UK, the last pair bred on Skye in 1916 – the eggs were taken by a collector – and the last surviving bird was shot in 1918.

 

Seagulls and Sea Eagles Re-introduction

Thanks to a re-introduction scheme begun in the 1970s(on the Isle of Rhum) there is now a good population of the birds along the west coast of the Highlands and there are further introductions taking place on the east coast. Although the Glenelg area was known to be a site where the eagles could be seen it was only in recent years that a pair established a territory and started to breed. Victor – so called for his identifyingwhite V on red wing tags – arrived first and soon paired with a female. They have had a nest and have laid eggs in each of the years since 2009 and have raised three young but with two failures due to stormy weather.

 

Fishing eagle Victor and Orla

Victor and his mate Orla ( pink wing tags with white O ) have become well established and provide regular views as they visit the Kyle Rhea channel between Skye and the mainland. The sea eagles can be seen catching fish or relieving gulls of the fish they have caught. The eagles are attracted to the channel because of the large numbers of fish carried into the Kyle on the rising tide. You can expect to see them when large numbers of gulls and seals are seen catching fish in the fast moving incoming tidal stream.

 

White Tailed sea eagle Viewing spots

The increased interest in the Glenelg sea eagles has spread due to media coverage and also the fact that they can be viewed easily from the shore, sometimes on a daily basis during the summer when they are feeding their young. The car parks on either side of the Kyle Rhea channel, the Otter Hide at Kylerhea on Skye and the Glenelg ferry are all excellent places to view the eagles from. Indeed the ferry skippers will often take detours when the eagles are seen in order to give passengers an improved opportunity to take their photos or get a better view.

Peter Jones

Photos courtesy of Andy Law

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