Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Loch Hourn Herons and the Golden Eagle

Leaving Barrisdale bay I was now heading for the narrows of Caolas Mor. I had read that a strong tide flows here and it can get very choppy if the wind is against the tide. However the flow was not too strong as the tide had not long turned and the wind almost non existent.

I examined the narrows on the way past and was pleased to notice that if the wind did get up against the receding tide, I could easily walk the inflatable through the narrows on the end of my mooring rope.

I was surprised to see such a trim cottage in the shelter of the north bank of the narrows as there is no road access. I guess the owners use a boat to get back to civilisation.

In the centre of inner loch Hourn there is a little island and as I approached it I was surprised to see around a dozen Grey Herons. Normally they are solitary birds but I had heard a rumour that in some places they lived in small colonies. In fact the little island was full of life. Seals and cormorants stood shoulder to shoulder with the herons.

I edged in closer to get a photograph of the heron colony but I accidentally spooky a couple which took to the air. Backing off I put the camera back in its bag. That’s when the golden eagle attacked. I saw it at the last moment, folding its wings and dropping like a stone with huge outstretched talons. At the very last moment the spooked heron body swerved and the eagle missed its target. Only a few feathers fell from the heron’s wingtip as it sped away. I was too late with the camera and this is the best shot I got of the golden eagle.

The attack happened around twenty yards from my head and I just gasped in awe at the sight of a lifetime. The eagle took a couple of seconds to recover from its dive before giving chase to the heron. The eagle is the bird in the left of this photo and the heron is escaping on the right.

Next moment the rest of the herons took to the air and started harassing the eagle. It eventually flew away leaving the herons squabbling and squawking at one another. To see it all happening right in front of my eyes, really made my day.

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