Jonathan: Working at the croft this morning I looked up to watch a family of Ravens making a commotion directly overhead: they were apparently in an altercation with – judging from the silhouette – a golden eagle. Eventually, the ravens made off towards the shore, and the eagle was left to itself, tacking effortlessly across the sky above the scree and boulders on the north face of Ben Sgiathan, powered by a steady breeze forced sharply up to the summit. After an apparently fruitless search, the eagle turned away in a slow arc, passing directly above me, and then away to the wild and rugged cliffs and crags of the east coast.
Resuming my fencing work, I spotted something on the ground beside the old feed bag containing fencing supplies – something that definitely wasn’t there a few minutes before. At first sight it appeared to be a large and dry-ish goose-poo ; but as our geese didn’t come anywhere near here, and there hadn’t been any wild geese about, that didn’t seem likely. Besides there was something different about it … so I took it home to investigate.
At home, with the benefit of my glasses, I could see that the object was made up of mostly hair or fur, insect wings, bits of bone, and a bit of research showed that this was typical of a pellet of indigestible material regurgitated by a bird of prey. (Apparently, it’s not just owls that eject pellets.) Washing away the mass of fur and smallest particles, I was left with insect wing cases, tiny skulls including rows of tiny teeth, dozens of tiny bones, and – most intriguingly – a claw or talon that (as someone completely inexperienced in these matters) could be that of a smaller bird of prey (perhaps a fledgeling?).
To me this suggests that the bird that ejected this pellet has predated a smaller bird of prey, possibly insect-catching small birds, and rodents. In my mind, this points to a golden or white-tailed eagle as the source of the pellet: both birds are present in this area, though golden eagles are more numerous.
Is any reader – more knowledgeable than myself (which wouldn’t be difficult) – able to throw more light on this?