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Skye youngsters become "White-tailed Eagle Rangers"

Last modified: 17 September 2013

Adult white-tailed eagle in flight

White-tailed and golden eagles were seen by the Rangers

Image: Niall Benvie

Experts from the RSPB and Highland Council Rangers have joined members of the RSPB’s local Wildlife Explorers Group – the SkyeLarks – on two highly successful White-tailed Eagle Safaris. Following training sessions the six-to-eleven year olds have become White-tailed Eagle Rangers, complete with special hoodies!

The first safari, held at Kylerhea, was led by RSPB education officer Sarah Stephenson.  Sarah said, “The highpoint was a visit by “Victor”, a white-tailed eagle, also known as a sea eagle, who has become something of a local celebrity. Victor appeared almost immediately and chased some of the gulls in the hope of snatching a regurgitated meal. However shortly afterwards the tables were turned, and Victor was seen off by the gulls. It was quite entertaining and the children enjoyed the spectacle.”

Sarah explained, “As part of the programme, the children participate in a training session the evening before each safari. Various experts including the RSPB’s  Alison MacLennan, Sarah Harris and myself along with Jenny Grant and John Philips of Highland Council Countryside Rangers, led training sessions for the ‘White-tailed Eagle Rangers’, on the ecology and history of the eagles. Equipped with their White-tailed Eagle Fact Files, White-tailed Eagle Ranger hoodies and caps as well as a few props, our guides were ready to go!” 

The second safari took place in North Skye. Sarah said, “Saturday morning had dawned bright and still and over twenty guests of all ages, both local and from further afield, assembled to take part in the White-tailed Eagle Safari.  Their young guides ably led them out along some sea-cliffs offering fabulous views, and with high hopes of seeing some White-tailed Eagles!  Each guide presented a different topic covering eagle identification, diet, habitat, their breeding cycle and history, with the assistance of our six-year-old ‘prop manager’ who produced a life-sized silhouette, a regurgitated pellet and a replica egg on cue. 

“Two white-tailed eagles put in an appearance, one spotted mid-presentation, by one of our ‘eagle-eyed’ guides. We were also treated to a distant view of a golden eagle, some gannets hunting close to shore and several basking sharks were seen quartering parts of the sea loch.

“At lunchtime we descended back to the road in high spirits: the weather had been calm and sunny; we had seen eagles; learned new information from our guides; and all had a thoroughly enjoyable morning. Judging from the response from our guests it was a huge success.  Our White-tailed Eagle Rangers were just brilliant!”

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