Conservation Manager, Stuart Benn, tells us why he thinks golden eagles should be Scotland's national bird.
Scotland’s national bird
Winter has really hit with a vengeance here in the Highlands – storm force winds, blizzards, trains and ferries cancelled, and the mountain hares are turning white. But golden eagles are already thinking about next spring.
I was up the glen the other day in perfect weather for spotting eagles – showers scudding in on a fresh breeze giving the birds plenty of lift and concentrating their activity into the dry spells. And sure enough, I was only 15 minutes from the car when I saw my first eagle of the day – a bit distant but still unmistakable with those big straight wings and splayed ‘fingers’. It hung over a herd of deer for a few moments sizing them up for any signs of weakness but seeing none drifted off and took three steep dives – eagle display!
Eagles won’t lay their eggs until late March but now is the time for the serious business of ensuring that they still have a mate and territory when that time comes. So, whilst other wildlife is battening down the hatches for the winter, adult eagles are patrolling their bit of hill seeing off intruders.
They are hardy birds, but it’s a tough world out there for eagles to survive – the weather is something they’re adapted to cope with but dealing with unfriendly humans is more of a challenge. The latest statistics paint a depressing picture but eagles deserve much more respect and the law-abiding majority of us will prevail.
Please show your support by adding your name to those asking for golden eagles to be named as Scotland’s national bird – petition closes on Friday 6 December so you’ll need to be quick!!
Some of you have been in touch recently with concerns about work to control feral goats at our Inversnaid reserve. For more information on this issue please see the email below.
Goats and the Inversnaid Special Area of Conservation
There has been a lot of concern over the welfare of the goats at our Inversnaid reserve and we wanted to send a reply to everyone that has taken the time to email us on this issue.
As the country's largest conservation organisation, the RSPB cares about all nature, and the reduction in number of these wild goats is a decision we've been forced to take with a very heavy heart. Our Inversnaid reserve is not only a beautiful woodland it is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC), which means we are legally bound to protect it from damage, from whatever source.
In May 2012, we were advised by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the Government conservation advisors, that the condition of the site was deteriorating and rare flora were at risk. In their opinion, this was the result of heavy grazing by the wild goats and because of the site's legal protection we had no choice but to do something to halt the damage.
The intention has never been to eradicate the goat population at Inversnaid, but to reduce the numbers to a level that maintains a harmony with the reserve. We initially sought a proposal for re-locating the goats, but didn't manage to find a viable alternative and so we were left with no choice but to go ahead with the cull.
Recent publicity has brought forward other offers of help with re-location, including an offer from Hillside Animal Sanctuary, which had not been made to us previously, but which is now being investigated.
So now we have an offer of somewhere to put the goats, but we still have no clear way of corralling them or safely capturing and transporting them the long distance to Norfolk. The terrain at the reserve is very steep, dangerous and difficult to access and the animals are naturally wild as they have never been domesticated. So we need to be sure that whatever we do, all the appropriate animal welfare, legal, health and safety and other official requirements are met.
It's too late to put all these measures in place for this year, as the cull is nearly over and has to be completed by the end of this month to avoid the breeding season. We sincerely hope we can find a way forward in discussion with experts in animal welfare that allows us to meet SNH's concerns and avoid the need to cull in the future.
We would like to re-assure you that we will be actively pursuing these new offers of help, to try and see if an alternative solution can be found to this complicated and unfortunate problem.
Thanks again for taking the time to email us
Dr Mike ClarkeRSPB Chief Executive
Limited edition pin badge to celebrate Livingstone’s bicentenary
photo via www.worldbirdinfo.net
Calling all pin badge collectors!
2013 is an important year as it is the bicentenary of the birth of David Livingstone, the famous 19th century explorer who travelled extensively through Malawi and southern Africa. To mark the anniversary, RSPB Scotland, in partnership with the Scottish Government and the Scotland-Malawi Foundation, are offering a limited edition pin badge of the beautiful Livingstone’s turaco, a bird of the subtropical lowland forests of the region , and named for David’s brother, Charles.
All money raised from the sale of the pin badge will go to support the BirdLife Partner for Malawi, The Wildlife and Environment Society of Malawi (WESM). The organisation works to introduce the public to the wonderful wildlife in the country and promote wise management of natural resources and the environment.
Sales of the turaco pin badge will assist WESM with their scholarship programme for students at University of Malawi ensuring that students with an interest in biodiversity are able to study and go on to help nature conservation in the country .
The limited edition pin badges are available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning Nicki Wilde on 0131 317 4100. The badges will also be available at select events throughout the year.