Once widespread across the UK, the golden eagle is no longer found in England and Wales, and fewer than five breeding pairs remain in the south of Scotland. But things may be looking up for eagle numbers with the launch of a much-anticipated project to strengthen golden eagle populations in the south of Scotland.
Three golden eagle chicks have been relocated from a stronghold in the Scottish Highlands to a secret location in the Moffat Hills by conservationists at the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project.
The eagle chicks are to be satellite tagged to collect information on their survival, behaviour, and health.
Organisers of the £1.3 million project now look to the public to help the population thrive.
Project Manager Cat Barlow, said: "We are thrilled to welcome our first golden eagle chicks and to see people in the south of Scotland really rallying to promote this wonderful area for wildlife."
She added: "We’re now calling on locals and visitors to the south of Scotland to help…in monitoring the birds’ progress, so that we can ensure that we can see even more of these magnificent birds across the south of Scotland’s skies."
In celebration of Scotland’s Year of Young People, children in schools surrounding Moffat Hills have rallied in support of the project and adopted the chicks – naming them Edward, Beaky, and Emily. Their support will continue throughout the chicks' lifetimes and as the project progresses, other schools will have the chance to name future chicks.
Francesca Osowska, Scottish Natural Heritage’s Chief Executive, said: "I remember the thrill I felt the first time I saw a Golden Eagle. The more people who can experience this, the better – and this wonderful project will make that happen. Golden eagles are such an amazing part of Scotland’s wildlife, and we’re passionate about returning them to places where they used to be plentiful. These striking birds are crucial for all of Scotland’s nature to thrive."
Relocations will continue over the next four years, rehoming between three and ten golden eagle chicks to the south of Scotland.
For more information or to report a golden eagle sighting visit goldeneaglessouthofscotland.co.uk
Main image: © Laurie Campbell
Choose a subscription offer to suit you and benefit from generous savings on the shop price, free UK delivery and discounts off special editions and back issues.