We managed to capture this fascinating and hilarious bit of interaction between our 2013 fledgling and his father during the autumn. Looks like this youngster will do well!
It’s been over 5 months since 13White1 fledged the nest in Fife, and summer feels like ages ago! Despite this, our juvenile hasn’t ventured that far yet, but with the next breeding season about to start, it won’t be long until he’s moved on by his parents. With birds on the west coast adding sticks to their nests already, our east coast pair won’t be far behind. Hopefully there’ll be a few more to celebrate this year!
Last week, RSPB staff and volunteers pulled down the aviaries that housed the young eagles for the East Scotland Sea Eagle release project. The 10 aviaries were built especially for the project in 2007 by Gilles and Mackay-a shed company in Errol, in time for the first cohort of eagles being flown in to East Scotland from Norway. The aviaries measured 3m by 3m and contained a “nest platform” and big perches for the birds. The front of the aviaries were made of wire mesh with a large release hatch, and all other 3 sides were of wood so that the birds were never exposed to project staff. They were fed through a small hatch in the back with a curtain, and peep holes were made so that the birds could be monitored without staff being seen.
The aviaries lasted well over the 6 years of releases, and hardly needed any repairs made to them. They have seen 85 eagles reared and set free!
Despite this, the team made light work of it, and they were all dismantled, flat-packed and moved off site in a single day!
The team which included Vicky Turnbull and Tommy Pringle–Tay reserves warden and assistant warden, and their team of amazing volunteers from RSPB Loch Leven; David Baynes, Brian Innes and Ken Brown.
Graham Craig from RSPB Tay reserves with his practical expertise made sure everyone kept warm by not slacking, and Neil Powrie, the local farmer was kind enough to donate his entire day to helping by loading the aviaries onto his tractor trailer.
RSPB staff from Perth and Aberdeen offices also pitched in and helped make the day successful and fun!
The aviaries are now being stored by Forestry Commission in the hope that they might be put to good use in the future!
It’s sad to see the aviaries come down-it was home to Claire Smith for the first five summers while she was project officer, and the same for me at the end of 2011 and 2012. But looking forward, we have a very exciting time ahead of us having had a successful breeding attempt this year, and hopefully more to come this coming season!
A HUGE thank you to the volunteers and staff who helped dismantle the aviaries!!!
Here are some photos of them in action….
Thanks to Kate Walters for taking the pictures!
Here is a beautifully written account by Sarah of how she came accross the nest in Fife. Sarah has been a dedicated and enthusiastic volunteer on the east Scotland sea Eagle project since 2009.
"It was a glorious day and even though both Rhian and I were probably secretly hoping for some sort of nesting behaviour when she sent me off to 'see what they were up to' it was never mentioned and I never thought for one minute that really I would find anything. They were only four after all. We all know that white tailed eagles don't mature until they are five. It was too exciting a prospect to even begin to allow myself to think it. I had already identified their rough location in the woods from scanning at the top of a local hill so off I went to find the male simply because he was the closest to where I was parked. Its very difficult using the scanner in amoungst trees as the signal bounces around and a couple of times I headed one way to find I should have been going the opposite way. I was constantly peering into the trees for a perching bird. I began to think that I was simply chasing the bird through the trees as he kept gliding on before I could see him. But finally the signal got stronger and stronger and I just knew he was close. I crawled under trees following a badger track and all of a sudden there he was, flushed from a tree five metres away. I couldn't understand why I hadn't seen him before until I looked up at the tree and thought 'surely not!'. And there it was, a thick collection of sticks right at the top of a fairly small pine tree. That was why I didn't spot a perching bird - he was hunkered down in a nest! I didn't believe it at first and walked around for a better view. All the while the male kept a close eye on me and circled over head several times, calling out. I could see him turning his head this way and that as he looked at me and he flew right over the nest as if to check that all was still as it should be. It was this behaviour that clinched it as he was obviously keen not to desert whatever was there. I was now hopeful for an egg. I stood there for a minute with the biggest smile on my face, in the silence and the sunshine, with this majestic male eagle gliding over my head, the only sound the wind in his wings, and I let the enormity of what I had found wash over me. And what makes it really special for me is the fact that they are 2009 birds. As a new volunteer in 2009, these were my first experience of chicks in the aviary. Claire allowed me to help with their feeds several times and I tracked them around the release woods when they first fledged. To see the male that day with his glorious white tail, the sign of his maturity, protecting his nest, was really special. The moment will stay with me forever."
Thank you Sarah and well done!!