A conservation project which aims to boost the number of golden eagles in the South of Scotland has become a soaring success.
As part of groundbreaking work to address low numbers of golden eagles in the area, conservationists at the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project have recently successfully transported eight new golden eagle chicks from the Scottish Highlands to a secret location in the southern uplands of Scotland.
This brings the total number of golden eagles that the charity initiative has successfully translocated to the area to 12 – almost doubling the local population of golden eagles.
The chicks have been named by local school children, celebrities and officials. Their names are Iona, Sinclair, Ellenabeich ‘Ellena’, Heather, Shine, Emma; in tribute to women’s rights champion Emma Ritch and Speckled Jim, after a pigeon in the cult show Blackadder.
This release comes ahead of the first ever festival dedicated to the country’s national bird to be held in Moffat in September.
With a keynote speech by Gordon Buchanan, a family fun day, a Big Tree Climb and live music sessions, the festival will also showcase ways in which people can help golden eagles to flourish in southern skies once again.
Speaking about the arrival of the project’s eight new golden eagles Cat Barlow, Project Manager for the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project said: “Covid 19 affected so many of our plans last year, so is absolutely amazing now to see these eight chicks settling down and soaring majestically above the Moffat Hills.
“We are truly thrilled too to be hosting our first Eagle Festival to celebrate our new arrivals and thank all our supporters for the vital contribution they make to helping us increase the golden eagle population in Scotland.”
Led by the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project, raptor workers in the Scottish Highlands carefully collected earlier this year under license from NatureScot, before taking them to their new home in a confidential location in the Moffat Hills.
The birds were then cared for in specially-designed release aviaries and supplementary fed to help them adjust to their new habitat before their release. Experts at the University of Edinburgh Dick Vet School also provided considerable support throughout the process to monitor the health and wellbeing of the birds.