Scotland's famed TV star white-tailed eagles celebrate new arrival

They are already the UK's oldest and most famous white-tailed eagles, known to millions of nature lovers thanks to their numerous appearances on popular TV shows like Springwatch and The One Show.

Now a pair of spectacular raptors on the isle of Mull have celebrated their 25th anniversary by successfully fledging their 25th chick.

Skye and Frisa are the oldest known white-tailed eagle pair at 28 and 30 years old respectively. They paired up in 1997 and hatched their first chick on Scotland's "Eagle Island" the following year.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

They became household names in 2005 with their televised debut on the first ever episode of BBC’s Springwatch, and have since appeared on numerous other programmes including Countryfile, The One Show and Springwatch spin-offs Autumnwatch and Winterwatch.

Frisa and Skye. Picture: Jim Manthorpe/BBCFrisa and Skye. Picture: Jim Manthorpe/BBC
Frisa and Skye. Picture: Jim Manthorpe/BBC

Their offspring have also gained widespread fame. In 2008, chicks Mara and Breagha were filmed by award-winning wildlife filmmaker Gordon Buchanan, and featured on Springwatch as the first white-tailed eagles in the UK to be satellite tagged. This allowed the public to follow their movements online as Mara became the first UK white-tailed eagle to be tracked from chick right through to its first nesting as an adult.

Skye and Frisa's newest chick - the latest in the remarkable raptor dynasty - is thought to be a female.

It can trace its lineage back to some of the first white-tailed eagles to repopulate Scotland following their extinction north of the Border in 1918. Frisa was the daughter of Blondie, the first eagle to successfully raise a chick in 1985 after the re-introduction of the species.

Another of their descendants, Finn, has been featured on live cameras at RSPB Scotland’s Loch Garten Nature Centre in the Cairngorms this year, fledging two chicks with his partner, Shona.

The new chick. Picture: Steve BentallThe new chick. Picture: Steve Bentall
The new chick. Picture: Steve Bentall

RSPB Mull Officer Dave Sexton said: "What an incredible achievement for Skye and Frisa after 25 years together.

"Their 25th chick is now out of the nest and well on her way to independence after a few more months of care from her hard-working parents.

"I love the family connections right back to Blondie and now right up to date with Finn and Shona in the Cairngorms."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The new chick will remain in the nest being fed by Skye and Frisa until it is around 12 weeks old.

Upon fledging, it will remain close to the nest and dependent on its parents throughout the autumn before seeking its own territory.

White-tailed eagles, also known as sea eagles, are the UK’s largest bird of prey with a wingspan of 2.5 metres. Their distinctive broad shape in flight has led to them being nicknamed "flying barn doors".

Hunted to extinction in Scotland by 1918, when the last native bird was shot on Shetland, the giant raptors were reintroduced to Scotland on the Isle of Rum in 1975, with further releases in Wester Ross and in Fife. There are now estimated to be around 150 pairs across Scotland.

Related topics:



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.