New paper provides insight in to golden eagles in north east Scotland

A new scientific paper has been published in the journal Scottish Birds (the quarterly journal of the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club) detailing the recent history of golden eagles in a north east Scotland home range, authored by two long term members of the North East Raptor Study Group, Alastair Pout and Graham Rebecca.

It’s a remarkable piece of work in that it details information collected over a 40-year study (all conducted under licence), providing a fascinating, multi-decade insight into the ongoing challenges these eagles face when trying to breed in some parts of the species’ range, especially in areas that are managed for intensive driven grouse shooting. The impact that a simple change of estate ownership can have on the level of disturbance to the eagles, especially when a home range might cover multiple estate boundaries as this one does, is sobering.

The paper also highlights the ineffectiveness of much of the legislation that’s supposed to protect these eagles, from development projects to those intent on killing eagles to protect their gamebirds. This won’t be news to regular blog readers and explains why many historical eagle territories remain vacant in large parts of NE Scotland and why there’s such a high turnover a young, immature eagles attempting to breed. The persecution is obviously continuing in these areas, on such a scale as to cause regional population level effects.

Again, this isn’t news – scientists have been warning of the impact of persecution on the Scottish golden eagle population for decades (e.g. see here) and although we’ve seen some small improvements in some areas of Scotland in the last few years, the problem still very much persists in others.

Many thanks to the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club for allowing me to publish the Scottish Birds paper here. Well worth a read:

3 thoughts on “New paper provides insight in to golden eagles in north east Scotland”

  1. Tremendous detailed work by the NERSG. The sobering conclusion seems to be that the statutory protections are not only ineffective, but probably harmful. One also has to wonder, exactly what kind of evidence of illegal practices does the local police consider to be admissible?

  2. Unfortunately the authors publish photos of the eyrie location with views down the glen where that obnoxious and pointless track was bulldozed, many will recognise the view despite the glen being fairly remote, and as a point of interest the estate to the south set out many illegal traps until police involvement, and as a study the authors also do not reckon what disturbance effect they had themselves on the eagles.

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