“O Lord of the Heights, whose eye encircles
The Land and the sea, and smiles through thunder,
Smile on us too, as sail we outward
To far blue Isles, with tales of wonder.”
From ‘The Iona Rainbow’ by Kenneth Macleod
I saw my first Golden Eagles in early January this year near Forsinard. Having searched for them on and off for the last few years it was exhilarating to finally see them. While on Skye I saw five. One pair and three alone. It will never get old, they are as unmistakable as they are beautiful. However, one more prize, but for a tantalising glimpse, still eluded me: the White Tail, the Sea Eagle.
And so I boarded the Brigadoon and set sail from Portree harbour in search of this magnificent bird. I also got a peek into the cloak and dagger world of boat trips – apparently there is a rival boat that will snag stray tourists by claiming to be the tour, then charge you much more for it!
Out in the warm sunny harbour I enjoyed the scenery as well as the wildlife. There were all the usual suspects, various gulls, shags, cormorants, the odd harbour seal. A Golden Eagle sailed over the hills in the distance. We caught brief sight of some common porpoises and then sailed on for some fantastic views of harbour seals hauled out on the rocks of a small island.
Eventually we spotted my prize, a White Tail, sitting on a rocky outcrop, seeming to glower down at us imperiously. Another Golden Eagle perched above (like waiting for a bus, they were all turning up at once) and flew out, soaring over the bay. The White Tail cocked his head. We waited. Our captain threw out bait time and again, drawing in wonderful views of Great Black-Backed Gulls. Then suddenly another White Tail that we had failed to spot launched itself into the air. It was spectacular!
Next: Fairy Glen