Moffat to be celebrated as ‘Eagle Town’ during golden eagle festival

The UK’s first golden eagle festival will take place later this year, celebrating the town of Moffat being named as an ‘Eagle Town’ as part of a plan to boost eco-tourism to the area.

Moffat has been chosen as it’s close to the original release site for translocated golden eagles, brought down from the Highlands and released in South Scotland to boost the tiny, remnant population that had previously been ravaged by illegal persecution and of which there is still evidence to suggest an on-going intolerance of golden eagles in some areas (see here).

The five-year translocation project is being led by a coalition of groups under the banner of the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project and this is also the group organising the golden eagle festival.

The event will take place between 19-26th September 2021 and wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan has been signed up to deliver the online keynote speech. He said:

I’m delighted to be part of the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project’s first ever Golden Eagle Festival and to support their important conservation work to ensure golden eagles once again flourish in southern skies.

The thrill of seeing a golden eagle soaring over a Scottish hillside is an unbeatable experience.

Each glimpse of this magical bird is special, but they should and could be more common in the south of Scotland.”

More details about the festival will be publicised later in the year. It’s worth keeping an eye on the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project website for info.

13 thoughts on “Moffat to be celebrated as ‘Eagle Town’ during golden eagle festival”

  1. Excellent news. I saw a Goldie in the valley on the way to Grey Mares Tail. I didn’t believe my eyes at first. It was like a flying coffee table. Well done to those involved in the project.

  2. One of the people involved came all the way up to Falkirk to give a talk about the translocation to the local SWT group one evening, very impressive. I hope this initiative does well, innovative way of obliquely putting forward the message that there are more and better jobs in change. We need to be better at doing this.

  3. Wonderful , wonderful , wonderful ; perhaps this will bring many more onboard and hopefully diminish somewhat the likelyhood of sabotage to these magnificent creatures

  4. I am pleased to see you promoting this. I recall you were pretty critical of the scheme when it was first proposed. It’s not the whole answer and we need to ensure the galloway hills become more suitable for eagles by feathering forest edges and creating more open space for hunting eagles when forests are restructured. Galloway has so much hill ground under plantations. And of course poorly located wind turbines and pylons pose a risk too. But as you say persecution is never far away. But the support this project has generated deserves celebrating and encouragement.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Stuart.

      I think my comments about this project were cautionary rather than critical, and I was upfront about having mixed feelings about it, largely because of the ongoing persecution issue in South Scotland, e.g. see here:

      What I have been critical of, and remain of this view, is SNH downplaying the persecution issue, e.g. see here:

      The Project is still in its early stages and it’s far too soon to judge its success or failure. Given the ongoing persecution issues on a number of estates in the region I will remain cautious about it for some time. But yes, I’m all for pushing the eco-tourism side and hope that works out well because the more people who get attached to these eagles the harder it will be for the grouse shooting industry to recover if they kill another one.

    2. There were quite a few of us who were worried it wasn’t just RPUK, and annoyed that the extremely expensive translocation had to take place at all when it would be totally unnecessary if a projected 40 – 50 golden eagles weren’t being killed illegally every year. However, we wished the project well and hoped it would make it more difficult for illegal persecution to take place in the borders. Has any downplaying of possible persecution in the borders, or of the ongoing persecution throughout the rest of the country helped this project so far? I suggest it’s a case of ‘in spite of’ rather than ‘because of’. I can’t see conscientious landowners being any less angry at the bad landowners than we are.

    3. Gamekeepers will be up in arms (pun just happened) that these birds are going to highlight ongoing persecution. I know that isn’t the intention but you don’t need to be soothsayer to know what is going to happen. Killjoy here says ‘ban first, introductions after’.
      The cannon fodder will make tremendous publicity.

  5. Will all of the birds released have tags fitted? I assume so – I have skimmed through the Projects website and probably missed this info. Supporters should prepare themselves for both highs and inevitably some heartbeaking lows I reckon, but good luck to it. It is good that people from TV have linked themselves to it, and they can get publicity when something grim occurs.

  6. Meanwhile Leadhills continues to act as a raptor sink….my worry is that the underlying reasons for the present lack of eagles in South Scotland have not been addressed…both persecution and degraded habitat. We need more Carrifrans and less wall to wall commercial forestry, less intensive agriculture [silage pits/tiny field margins/lack of river edge/lack of hedges and tree boundaries] and less large scale pheasant and red-legged partridge release. and a stop to Driven Grouse Shooting…These are not small issues I realise but nothing will change for eagles by simply bussing a few in and hoping for the best. But hey, no ones listening to this are they?!…Re-wilding is the only long term answer or youll just have an “eagle zoo” in the few places the shooting estates will allow.. These are not quick turn-over birds like Kites or Goshawks, its very easy to keep them down…I hate having to make comments like this, Moffat is my home town but it goes to the very heart of what I worked for.

    1. Absolutely. Golden Eagles have such small territories that if one pair can settle in a safe area they will be fine but they will roam before settling and even if they manage to last for the first 5 plus immature years their chick are going to roam, so the running the gauntlet is repeated every year. Until we ban the bastards.

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