Police investigate alleged destruction of sea eagle nest on Scottish grouse moor


This is just jaw-droppingly shocking.

Police Scotland are investigating the alleged destruction of a white-tailed eagle nest on Invermark Estate in the Angus Glens, according to the BBC.

RSPB Scotland claim that the nest was the first sea eagle breeding attempt in East Scotland in over a century, following the reintroduction of the species to this region over the last six years. Apparently the nest had been built up since November 2012 and the nest cup was already lined and thus primed for use. The RSPB claim they warned Invermark Estate about the presence of the nest; the BBC reports the nest tree was felled in January this year.

Here is the RSPB’s statement:

Over several months our staff had been monitoring this pair of white-tailed eagles from the East of Scotland release scheme in collaboration with local landowners. We confirm that a nest had been built, but the tree was felled. When this incident came to light, we notified the police immediately and shared all our intelligence, since all nests of white-tailed eagles are fully protected. If anyone can provide further information on this deplorable incident, they should contact Police Scotland as soon as possible. This is a current police investigation.

This is the first nesting attempt by white-tailed eagles in the east of Scotland for over a century, and is the start of what we hope will become a thriving population of white-tailed eagles in this former part of their natural range. In East Scotland, there has been a 6 year reintroduction programme since 2007 between RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland, and the Norwegian authorities, who have helped with supply of donor birds. In east Scotland, this project has captured widespread public imagination and support, and is involving many local stakeholders. It is desperately disappointing and frustrating that what should have been a cause for celebration for all those interested in our wildlife appears instead to have become yet another statistic in the long list of crimes against Scotland’s birds of prey”.

Invermark Estate, situated at the top of Glen Esk, strongly refutes the allegations. Here is their official statement:

We take our wildlife management responsibilities very seriously and are proud of our record in this area. We have also had an excellent relationship with all relevant wildlife organisations, especially RSPB with whom we often work in partnership. The estate has also been an enthusiastic supporter of the Partnership for Action Against Wildlife Crime. We have many species on the estate including golden eagles, ospreys – as well as the sea eagles in question which are thriving on the estate. We have long been happy with the presence of all these species. Any suggestion that the estate or its employees – who are highly trained and implement extensive conservation programmes – would jeopardise or disrupt species that have made this estate their home, is disputed in the strongest possible terms”.

Invermark is part of the Dalhousie Estates. We think that Dalhousie Estates is a member of the landowners’ organisation, Scottish Land & Estates. At least it was in 2010 as the owner, Lord Dalhousie, signed the now infamous landowners’ letter to then Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham, condemning illegal raptor persecution (see here).

Here is the official statement in response to the tree-felling allegations from Scottish Land & Estates:

Invermark Estate has an exemplary record in wildlife conservation and protection. At this stage the facts have yet to be established. There is a worrying trend in these matters that certain people take the irresponsible view that accusations can be made anonymously through the media, in the middle of police investigations, with the objective of hoping that mud sticks and an estate can be portrayed as being guilty until proven innocent. What we do know in this case is that the sea eagles are alive and well and remain on the estate where they are welcome along with many other great examples of Scottish wildlife”.

The allegations being made are astonishing. If proven, this would be the most extraordinarily brazen display of raptor persecution in Scotland in a long time. We’re used to hearing the now all-too familiar reports of the clandestine use of poison against birds of prey on some sporting estates in Scotland – a secretive & illegal practice that is easy to hide and easy to deny if challenged. But felling a tree that contains a massive nest structure, built by a large and highly conspicuous raptor that is afforded the highest possible level of legal protection in the land? That would be some display of arrogance, wouldn’t it? Unlike poisoning, you couldn’t really hide what you’d done, and the chance of there being before/after photographic evidence to prove the existence of such an historic nest would surely be quite high, especially if you knew the nest was being monitored. You’d probably only fell the tree if (a) you thought there was a very good chance you could get away with it, or (b) even if you were caught you couldn’t give a toss as you know you’d probably just get a fine of a few hundred quid, or maybe even a community service order.

Five months on and the police investigation ‘continues’, whatever that means. Draw your own conclusions. And why, yet again, have Police Scotland not mentioned this inquiry? Why are we having to rely on tip-offs given to the media to learn about these alleged crimes? (Well done BBC journalist David Miller, by the way). It’s not as though the public aren’t even interested in the East Scotland sea eagle reintroduction project for god’s sake – there has been huge public interest in the project, ever since it began in 2007, and the first nest is a long-awaited symbolic and historic event. Is it in the public interest to keep under wraps the allegation that the nest has been illegally destroyed? No, it isn’t, but it sure as hell is in the game shooting industry’s interest. Just how much influence do they have over police operations?

This alleged incident is, we think, a game-changer. In many ways, the first East Scotland sea eagle nest is a symbolic and historic event, just not in the way we had imagined it would be. According to the BBC article, Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse has given his strongest indication yet that the introduction of new measures to tackle illegal raptor persecution is imminent. To be brutally frank, he’s going to find himself at the centre of a fucking shit-storm if he doesn’t. Sorry about the bad language but, seriously, if that’s what concerns you most about this blog entry then you really shouldn’t be here.

Please consider emailing the Environment Minister to let him know what you think about the latest allegations and to ask him when, exactly, might we see these new measures he keeps promising? Email to: ministerforenvironment@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

BBC article here.

UPDATE 21.00hrs: An article in the Scotsman (here) provides a further statement from Paul Wheelhouse:

This incident is under police investigation and I am therefore unable to comment in detail, but if reports are correct this is a shocking and brutal way to end the nesting attempts of a pair of young sea eagles. I know the Scottish public will be similarly shocked by such reports particularly as this was the first attempt by the species to nest in the east of Scotland for 100 years.

I have been clear that if we are faced with continuing incidents involving raptor persecution, whether that is poisoning, or shooting, trapping or nest destruction I would take action.

I have been made aware of this incident and others, and so have been working with officials to develop further measures which will target those who continue to flout the law and I will announce further details shortly“.

UPDATE 23.30hrs: For a limited period, watch David Miller’s tv report on Reporting Scotland here (BBC iPlayer, 11.40 mins in).

57 thoughts on “Police investigate alleged destruction of sea eagle nest on Scottish grouse moor”

  1. I thought that the Raptor persecution fraternity had already sunk to the deepest depths of depravity possible, I was wrong, this latest alleged episode is now down to the Mariana Trench level. What next, a poisoned pet dog, or heavens forbid a poisoned child. Time for our law enforcement to tear itself away from the control of the establishment on the shooting estates and stand up for real law enforcement, you know, the thing that the public pay them to do.

    [Ed: Nirofo, we’ve inserted the word ‘alleged’ into your comment. This alleged incident is still under investigation].

  2. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

    [Ed: thanks for the very useful info. Unfortunately we can’t publish it. You’ll understand why!]

  3. The scumbags who allegedly did this are no better that those who hack the face off Rhinos, beat Orang Utans to death on palm oil plantations etc.. Time the law starts treating these criminals the same way!!

    [Ed: Thanks for yourt comment, Jimmy. It’s been edited – it’s important for all commentators to acknowledge that at this stage it is still only an alleged offence. Certain lawyers will be all over this blog tonight!]

    1. Fair enough Ed – I was expressing my hope that if such a crime was committed, than these responsible should face the harshest of penalties.

  4. ” Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse has given his strongest indication yet that the introduction of new measures to tackle illegal raptor persecution is imminent.”

    Is that right. Sounds like the claptrap that comes out of the United Nations “A letter of condemnation will be issued”. I’ll be astonished if Wheelhouse does anything worthwhile.

    As for the police investigating for 5 months (5 months ?? – are the effing well kidding). Who was in charge – this guy – http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lwjqw3jXQp1r53ppjo1_500.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/clouseau&h=450&w=450&sz=22&tbnid=UiaNhGmZ-RhOIM:&tbnh=96&tbnw=96&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dinspector%2Bclouseau%26tbm%3Disch%26tbo%3Du&zoom=1&q=inspector+clouseau&usg=__To4xKKylCORjpAHYrc03B83KrQ4=&docid=ldhtvr5oZxUgGM&sa=X&ei=hgy6UcOTIoffOuLZgYgP&sqi=2&ved=0CEMQ9QEwBA&dur=3026

    1. Hi Dougie,

      Check out the update at the foot of this evening’s blog entry for a further statement from Paul Wheelhouse. Obviously we’ll be taking a close interest in the new measures he’ll be introducing re: their potential effectiveness, but for now we view his statement as very positive news indeed.

  5. I’ll make no comment re the subject matter. But you had to edit all three previous comments and essentially so, we’re all playing right into the hands of these criminals if – for example – we use the wrong language, though your unnecessary apology about Paul Wheelhouse….’finding himself at the centre of a fucking shit storm’….was well qualified.

  6. This is a shocking thing to have allegedly happened in the so-called Year of Natural Scotland. However, can you clarify your statement that “the RSPB claim they warned Invermark Estate about the presence of the nest but say that the nest tree was subsequently felled in January this year”. This doesn’t appear in the official statements (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/13_06_13whitetailedeaglestatements.pdf) and indeed the statements from both the RSPB and Invermark estate refer to their partnership working. Without knowing the exact location it is not impossible for a third party to come and cut a tree down (indeed it would be a pretty foolish thing for the estate to do themselves).

    [Ed: Hello PC. The reference to January appears in the BBC article. We do know the exact location and of course it’s possible that a random chainsaw-yielding member of the public would make such a long trek across this grouse moor to fell one particular tree. It’s equally as possible, and just as plausible, that it was a beaver wot done it.]

    1. So lets get this straight. A chain saw toting member of the public walked or drove over this estate land, cut down a tree with all the noise that entails and nobody noticed. Then it took since January to make this public, so everything seems to be par for the course so far. I think if I was Mr Wheelhouse I would be investing in an Umbrella, Hard Hat and Wellies. Shit storm on it’s way. Sorry my mistake, it was of course the Beavers, helped by the Badgers and the Buzzards were no doubt involved too. They should all be culled to save the White Tailed Eagle nests.

  7. As much as this kind of alleged destructive cruelty might move me to strong language, I’ll just say that this appears to be another shocking instance in a long line of raptor persecutions. This website does an invaluable job, and I thank them for keeping the information flowing, and the pressure on those who, for a variety of motivations (top of which must be greed) will not leave these magnificent creatures alone

    [Ed: Hi Suzanne, thanks for your comment – had to edit slightly. Thanks for your support of our blog – hope you can email the Minister!]

  8. Absolutely sickening, let us hope that the perpetrators of this (alleged) crime are bought to justice, although I wont hold my breath!
    Of course when these (alleged) criminals read that licences have been issued to legally destroy Buzzard nests, I suppose they assume that, despite the rhetoric to the contrary, a blind eye will be turned to their (alleged) crime by the law enforcers and judiciary of our land.

  9. [Ed: sorry Marco, we’re unwilling to publish your first four paragraphs].

    Doesn’t anyone find it interesting that the recent Buzzard control licence debacle, the Leadhills poisons incident and now this WTE issue, that there has been no condemnation from the pro-shooters that use this site? Says it all about that section of society.

    But here’s an idea for the RSPB. How’s about the Invermark Estate for the 2014 Birdfair!?

  10. You know what worries me most about the ever increasing reports of Raptor persecution is the total lack of effort from anyone in a position to do something about it, in particular the police come out of all this stinking highly of shit right up to their armpits. I get fed up of reading all the reports of this or that Raptor being poisoned, this or that gamekeeper caught with banned poison substances, but and it’s a big but, I don’t see any reports of the police apprehending the culprits for either being in possession of illegal substances or what’s worse, for wildlife crimes. To top all this our so called members of parliament and ministers of the Scottish government sit in their plush offices offering platitudes and doing absolutely nothing about the problem at all.

    [Ed: to be fair, culprits are, occasionally, convicted for possession. For actual poisoning, not so much (although there have been a couple – investigation led by SSPCA rather than police). Re: Scottish government ministers – please see latest update at the foot of today’s blog. Let’s wait and see what Paul Wheelhouse is proposing here – it may well be a (nother) platitude but it may also be something that’s actually useful].

  11. I’ll have to read through this again in the morning. “Alleged” The tree was cut down. If the allegations were thrown out in the sheriff’s court there still wouldn’t be a tree there

  12. What I absolutely fail to fathom is how the Invermark Estate can so strongly refute the allegation, when the evidence (the felled tree with what appears to be scattered nest material) is in plain sight and has been photographed! Who would have cut down such a tree, with such a large difficult-to-miss nest, if it wasn’t someone on the estate? Talk about implausible deniability . . . Nature tourism generates far, far more for the Scottish purse than the revenue from these shooting estates, so they’re kind of shooting themselves in the foot! Plain madness.

  13. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. Project Raptor can tell you precisely who did it or the kind of person who did it. It is the same person who was responsible for lacing a substantial quantity of meat with enough poison to kill hundreds of raptors and dozens of people and placing the whole lot out by a grouse moor. It is the same person who tried to shoot a Red Kite out of the sky two weeks ago in broad day light and it is the same person who shot dead a buzzard last week. It is the same person who continues to routinely slaughter birds of prey up and down the country, with the confidence that they will get away with it and that their crimes will never be discovered. It is the same person who has a sickening disregard for wildlife and often has little or no concern for the safety of human life. This person is somebody who is out of control, who is arrogant beyond belief and feels that they are untouchable. This person laughs in the face of those who try to protect these birds from harm. This person is not encouraged or forced to shoot, poison, trap or bludgeon these birds to death, they do it because they can, because they see it as fun and a challenge. Our challenge is to rid this country of such filth, to make them a pariah in their own community and it is time now for this Government to take charge, show some balls and stop down playing the seriousness of this issue with misleading statements. As uncomfortable as this issue is, the first step to recovery is admission. Scottish Government, you will feel so much better and may even gain the confidence and respect of the Scottish people on this matter if you would just say those words…. MY NAME IS SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT AND I HAVE A RAPTOR PERSECUTION PROBLEM.

    Question: Why has it taken five months for this story of the WTE nest to come out? Project Raptor understands very well the process of investigation, but no harm would have been done to make this particular incident public so much sooner. We have seen Government funded posters going up in areas of the country where poaching has taken place, asking for assistance from the public. This is a very nice service for the landowner, but isn’t it about time that Government began putting up posters and generally carrying out community awareness initiatives in areas where raptors have been found to have been killed or persecuted? Project Raptor for one, if it were living in a rural community, would like to be made aware that birds of prey were being slaughtered in its area and that deadly poisons were being put out around the community where adults, children and pets have access. In fact, Project Raptor would be somewhat outraged that it was not being informed of these incidents that were occurring on its door step, as would the majority of the community. Giving the local community the information about these crimes sooner may encourage them to come forward with information which would help the police with their investigations. The perpetrators of these sickening crimes should no longer be allowed to hide within their communities and it is time to out them, it is time to turn up the volume and begin to fight back.


    1. Maybe, also, they read of our outrage here and elsewhere, and have a good laugh. I’m not remotely suggesting any sort of self-censorship, but it’s a kind of catch-22 . . . One feels that with this blatant kind of destruction, even though no actual birds died, a kind of line in the sand has been crossed. Most depressed.

    2. You haven’t got it yet have you, the government and their lackeys don’t want to encourage the local community to come forward with evidence, they don’t want assistance from the public, they don’t want the police to arrive on the scene as quickly and stealthily as possible to gather meaningful evidence in a timely fashion. They don’t want the details to be released to the public or the media within a timescale that would be useful in attracting witnesses etc. To put it in a nutshell they’ll go out of their way to use any means they can think of to make sure that no evidence will be found that can link them to the crime and get them to court where the next stage of the saga would take place !!!

  14. I saw this pair of White Tailed Eagles on 4th November 2012, in fact I have a video of them flying around the trees and settling on them maybe behaving a bit ‘broody’ come to think of it, but at that point did not suspect that they might nest. There were quite a few sightings of the pair in 2012 but strangely so far in 2013 I have not seen them again.

    I am furious with this reported incident but who is to blame? Invermark and its management have a good reputation here in Angus and the estate has two pairs of Golden Eagle that have bred successfully for many years but others do have the use of the land for sheep farming and therein begins another chapter regarding the perceived attitude to eagles some people might have.

    The RSPB were informed of my sightings and obviously were aware at that time of the nest building so it might have been wise of them to protect that nest which symbolized years of ‘investment’ in the east coast reintroduction scheme by requesting help to monitor that nest; I am sure many would have volunteered to keep an eye on nesting progress because the birds seemed to be fairly tolerant of disturbance.

    This is a sad event in the Year of Natural Scotland but I am certainly not going to be hasty in pointing the finger at Invermark management / keepers who would have benefited from White Tailed Eagles nesting here because of the estate’s innovative and recent venture into wildlife tourism that is promoting the W T Eagle as a possible attraction.

    1. I think you have raised a valid point here. Why did the RSPB not set a watch on this nest? Dare I suggest the site may have been too remote to hope for visitors and they would have no one to sign up for membership?

      1. The site is easily accessed and would have been perfect for eagle watching under Invermark estate’s proposal to start wildlife tours. The RSPB should be very embarrassed that this has happened, it could have been so good for them, Invermark and Angus tourism. If there is anyone to blame for this I know where my finger would point.

        1. Trying to place the blame at the feet of the RSPB is, frankly, absurd. It’s all very well to say in hindsight that the nest should have been protected but who in their right mind would have predicted that someone might fell the nest tree, on an apparently law-abiding estate?

          1. Well, I have not actually said who I would blame for the alleged act. The RSPB have failed to protect this pair of eagles, their nesting would have been historic for East Scotland and every precaution should have been enabled to secure the nest site the minute they started monitoring it, after all that is the organisation’s purpose and that is not absurd.
            in my opinion xxxxxxxxxxxx is where the blame might best be directed.

            1. Of course no one could predict the felling of the tree but if eggs had been laid surely they would have been in danger from collectors? Or the young from a shotgun or two? Was there any real hope that this nest would have been successful if so easily accessed? Dave Adam is quite correct, the RSPB (and of course SNH) have failed to protect this nest, despite the large amount of funding this project received. However, I suppose, the REAL blame lies with the law makers and enforcers who seem impotent (at best) to stop these things happening. Lets hope the tide turns before Scotland’s raptors go the way of the harriers and peregrines of Bowland, here in England.

              [Ed: how do you know that RSPB didn’t have plans to give around-the-clock- surveillance if incubation commenced? This alleged offence took place in January, not in the middle of the breeding season].

                1. In January the breeding cycle of White-tailed Eagles is well under way, having started probably back in November, just because the nest was not fully finished and eggs had not yet been laid doesn’t mean that the nest is not occupied. If any watch was to be kept on this eyrie it should have started as soon as it was realised the site was in use. A pair of Sea Eagles as important as these two, nesting for the first time in more than a hundred years on the East coast of Scotland should have been watched from the word go. by the people responsible for introducing them in the first place.

                  [Ed: Your irrational hatred of the RSPB is shining through, as usual. The person(s) responsible for this alleged crime will be thanking their lucky stars for your diversionary support].

                  1. Irrational hatred of the RSPB?
                    We are talking about something completely different here regarding this incident and no ‘hatred’ of the RSPB or diversionary motives are intended. If our constructive criticism of a complete disaster is to be ridiculed, then surely stating ‘irrational hatred of the RSPB’ is attempting to devalue our input on this incident and further divert attention away from the fact that the RSPB did in fact fail to protect this nest site. Let’s hope that someone from the RSPB takes our comments on board and gets it right the next time.

                    PS. Editing my very valid point about other factors being involved outwith Invermark estate’s control is without explanation, I did not consider any part of what I submitted to be controversial.

                    [Ed: Dave, we welcome comments on this blog but ALL comments are subject to moderation because as the publishers we are legally responsible for the blog’s content, including comments posted by others. Comments that we believe to be potentially defamatory will not be published. This is non-negotiable].

                2. How can the RSPB watch every single nest from so early on. You think there are enough volunteers to watch all the nests in the middle of winter. The same logic can be applied to every rare bird. I see the comments refer to the east coast’s first breeding pair of White-tailed Eagles but drawing lines in the sand after the event is too easy.
                  I guess cameras would have been a good idea and could have caught the culprits but again it is all with hindsight.

                  1. I disagree with the RSPB on certain issues, but in general, the good outweighs the bad and I wholeheartedly agree with Anand on this, as there is no way the RSPB would be able to watch every nest from such an early stage. And considering White-tailed Eagle nests are protected at all times, is anyone seriously suggesting that they should be watched round the clock throughout the year? There is only one person to blame here, and that is the person that [allegedly] felled the tree, unless he was under instruction to cut it down, for which that person would also be guilty.

                    Cameras would have been a good idea, but going by past offences, you would need the permission of the landowner or the evidence would be ignored by the courts. I hope I’m wrong, but I do get the feeling that this [alleged offence] will be added to the extensive catalogue of raptor crimes that will go unpunished in this blatantly corrupt nation.

    2. But who else are you suggesting could have had, in crime parlance, the means and motive?
      I wasn’t aware that sheep farming on grouse moors was intense enough to provoke such an illegal act.
      Does anyone know if a sheep farmer would be accountable to the estate or are the grazing rights completely separate from the shooting rights and ownership of the land.
      It seems inconceivable that a sheep farmer would dare to commit such an act without permission from the landowner. Not if he/she was sane. Without passive or active consent he/she would risk losing more than the occasional lamb.

  15. Where is the National Wildlife Crime Unit in all this? They are clearly absent and not worth a penny of anyone’s money. Nothing more than a strap line and lip service in culture of apathy . What is worse is some people actually believe they are doing something………….

  16. It´s just amazing that in today´s Britain such brazen acts [if proven] are still happening. It´s depressing but it makes me think we’ve made no practical progress in protecting raptors.

  17. Did we ever find out how many eagle and harrier nest sites were accidentally burnt out this spring? Bet this statistic will not feature in the annual reporting.
    I don’t understand what function does the silence serve? The raptor workers know the fate of the nest…..the estate owners will know about the fate of the nest. Who are the police trying to surprise by keeping it quiet?

  18. Actually I don’t find this shocking. For someone who has seen an eagle site burned out, found a poisoned one, found a trapped one, witnessed a red kite shot at from a public road amongst others,you realise this is the norm. The people who do these things are not going to change their ways. Laws can be amended, new ones past, but it will not make an iota of difference to the behaviour of these people. These incidents are not taken seriously, no matter what they say, by Police Scotland, Scotland’s judiciary and most importantly by the Scottish Government.. It will continue unless the perpetrators receive what they deserve, nothing more, nothing less, prison.

    1. Dave, was that the only tree that had been cut down or were there others felled as part of logging operations?

        1. Thanks Dave, I took a look at your blog. At least that rules out the excuse that it was inadvertently cut down during timber operations.

  19. The solution to this never-ending issue is quite simply. Any landowner, big or small, should have a legal obligation to protect any identified vunerable flora or fauna. Failure to do so adequately should result in land / estate consification. The funds raised from the sale to more responsible owners can then be used for future conservation projects.

    It will only take one or two cases to stop these disgraceful incidents occuring!

  20. I think this latest [alleged] crime is another example of where immediate publicity may have paid dividends. Someone clearly had to get a chainsaw to the nest site. A saw being carried from a vehicle into woodland would not normally arouse suspicion and no one would, in all probability, pay much attention. Given a few weeks anyone having seen such an event would have most likely completely forgotten about it.
    However, if there was an immediate public announcement that a sea eagle’s nest had been destroyed by tree felling on or about XX date then that opens up the possibility of a member of the public recalling seeing someone carrying a chain saw or even a vehicle parked near the site etc.

  21. So.. if a camera was put in by RSPB, the camera was not discovered by the estate and the person, presuming they werent wearing a hat/balaclava that meant they could be identified was filmed felling this tree, would this have stopped it happening? No. Where would volunteers have sat round the clock in winter (if they could even access the site during December) near a track un-detected? And how many volunteers/staff would RSPB need to undertake this whilst also keeping an eye on the other 60 east coast birds that are alive and locating and protecting their nest sites? Or take a different tack,, RSPB should have spoken to the estate and worked with them to protect the nest, oh wait…RSPB did [allegedly] speak to the estate to arrange a meeting about the nest and there is suddenly no nest to protect. Statements about RSPB only being interested in potential viewing sites are utter rubbish there are over 60 nesting white-tailed eagles in Scotland with viewing at only 3 and viewing on Mull was only established nearly 15 years after nesting had begun on the island following public pressure. RSPB dont get everything right, they are a large orgtanisation with a range of views but you cannot predict every outcome and RSPB were not at fault here.

  22. A disgraceful [alleged] crime, against our one of our most vulnerable raptor species (certainly in terms of numbers). In my opinion there is only one person to blame – the one that committed the heinous crime of [allegedly] chopping down the tree, and if applicable the manager of that person. The RSPB and other organisations behind the WTSE reintroduction have done nothing but excellent work on tight budgets. They deserve our praise & support for all they have done to get us to the stage of having an East of Scotland population. Focus on the positives and also who were the real [alleged] culprit(s). e-mail Paul Wheelhouse and others to let them know crimes can’t continue to go on unpunished..

    1. Who is responsible for this (alleged) crime? Whoever cut down the tree. And the law makers and enforcers of Scotland who cannot bring such criminals to justice. And the RSPB and SNH who took these birds from their nests and cast them into the midst of their “enemies” territory when they are impotent to protect them. What must the folk of Norway think of us, hearing us pontificate about pandas, rainforests and tigers when we cannot protect the birds they generously donated ? Maybe with the situation regarding persecution being as it is, this east coast reintroduction was ill-advised. Maybe the sea eagle should have been allowed to expand its range naturally from the west coast, where its situation is obviously so different, hopefully by then attitudes to it would have changed. After all does anyone really think this (alleged) crime will be the last?
      With regard to the RSPB, well when all is said and done they ARE a major player in this game and cannot be absolved of responsibility to these birds. They have been the prime mover in the reintroduction of these birds and I firmly believe they should have done everything possible to have safeguarded this nest. After all this was not any old raptor nest, this was the first sea eagle nest on the East coast of Scotland for perhaps a 150 years and was the culmination of the ESSE project. Talk of tight budgets is I feel a little naïve, didn’ t the project receive £235000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund last year? Enough for some barbed wire I think. Compare the efforts to protect this nest with the efforts to protect the returning ospreys in the 1950s, no lottery money then I believe. An East of Scotland population is nothing unless it can be self sustaining, if not better to keep them in a zoo. It has been mentioned that they would have needed the landowners permission to set up cameras, etc , but it has also been mentioned that Invermark is keen to promote its image and wildlife tours, so why would permission have not been given?
      I really doubt the RSPB has the will or means to protect these birds. I mentioned in my earlier post the hen harriers of the Forest of Bowland which the RSPB began “protecting” in the late 1980s. They have now gone (as they have pretty much throughout England as a breeding species) and now the peregrines of that area are quickly following them. Again they received considerable funding for this project, but the return is zero. They have “protected” Englands last few harriers into extinction. No excuses, no enquiry, no apology, no offer to repay the funding as perhaps they should. I wonder why the situation on Scotland’s East coast will be any different.
      I do not hate the RSPB before it is “alleged” I do, but I do hate the smugness that it and its blinkered supporters show when criticism is applied to it. The RSPB does do worthy things but that does not excuse it when it sometimes clearly gets thing wrong, as it has with England’s harriers and obviously this nest.

      PS I should mention I have been a member of the RSPB for longer than I care to think about and that I shall continue to pay my subscription. I shall continue to criticise it when I feel it is justified and no doubt shall continue to receive replies telling me what good things they do……….don’t even get me started on their predator culling policy………

      1. Tony (and others), I honestly cannot understand why anyone could blame the RSPB in any way for this alleged crime. This nest location would probably have been monitored at some stage by voluntary Scottish Raptor Study Group members, so would you also blame the SRSG for the destruction of this nest? I sincerely hope not, and the same must be true of the RSPB. If the RSPB are to blame for this alleged offence, should they also be blamed for all the illegal trapping, shooting and poisoning of raptors over the years. The RSPB are simply not in a position to protect every raptor or nest.

        I think that the mere mention that the east coast re-introduction was ill-advised, is ill-advised in itself. Game estate employees and landowners would like people to believe this, as they did with the west coast re-introduction (some still do), but if we were to be fearful of persecution incidents, then there would have been no west coast re-introduction and there would be no Red Kites in Scotland. Please remember that some west coast birds have fallen victim to the raptor criminals and the Scottish Red Kite populations are nowhere near as viable as the English populations. This is mainly due to illegal persecution, so should we just accept those levels of persecution and blame the RSPB for that as well?

        We also have to remind ourselves that the tree was felled in January. It is possible that the RSPB were preparing to have the nest protected and informed the estate of their intentions, only for the tree to be felled before any elements of protection could be put in place, but I am just guessing at this. Perhaps an RSPB representative would be more informed to comment on this.

        And again, blaming the RSPB for the English Hen Harrier situation is just plain wrong. Due to trespass laws, the RSPB can only protect the birds on land they are managing. If these birds are shot elsewhere, then there isn’t much the RSPB can do.

        However, there is one thing that we should be doing through all of this, and that is uniting on this issue. Stop blaming the RSPB for something out of their control, and instead aim your grievances at the scumbag that cut down the tree and those that refuse to take appropriate action against wildlife criminals.

        In response to your postscript, I should also mention that although I am a co-opted RSPB volunteer at group level, I am not a member of the RSPB, and if you choose to read them, you will see that I will openly criticise the RSPB if I deem it necessary.

  23. Observing this from Norway it is really strange to see that someone cuts down a tree with a nest of WT Eagles! We have hundreds and hundreds of them in our country and really NO-ONE do care at all since they really do no harm to farmers, game-birds or anyone else! They do fish, they do take Eider-sized waterfowl and they are active scavengers, but they are in general no offense for lambs or other livestock in Norway (we do have a few also here!). So using energy destroying breeding sites and/or killing them is just a stupid use of energy.. Enjoy the sight and sounds of them, they are in deed great birds! PS! As the eagles all are of Norwegian origin we are a bit ashamed on behalf of the farmers/gamekeepers keeping up this old-fashioned behaviour..
    Stein, Norway

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