Two white-tailed eagle chicks have successfully hatched from a nest in Fife, it was announced today.
It is the fourth year running that this pair of white-tailed eagles has nested in Forest Enterprise Scotland woodland in Fife, with last year bringing the first arrival of two chicks.
The parents, known as Turquoise 1 and Turquoise Z after their wing tags, were released in 2009 as part of the East Scotland Sea Eagle reintroduction project, which saw 85 birds released on the east coast of Scotland between 2007 and 2012.
Rhian Evans, East Scotland Sea Eagle Officer, said: "It's really great news that there are two chicks again this year! Last year, one of the chicks sadly died of natural causes in the nest so we hope that this year, both will fledge successfully. We have over 30 local volunteers involved in protecting and monitoring the nest, which helps keep the birds safe and provides us with a fascinating insight into their lives."
Last year was an exciting time for white-tailed eagles in Scotland, as the population reached 100 pairs, marking a significant milestone for the reintroduction of the species. The 100th pair nested on Hoy in Orkney which marked a large expansion of their range in Scotland.
To help people try to see white-tailed eagles in Fife, RSPB Scotland, Forest Enterprise Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage will be running guided walks at Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve on Sunday 17 July, Saturday 6 August and Saturday 27 August. For more details or to book a place, phone 01738 630783 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Graeme Findlay, Environment Manager for Forest Enterprise Scotland's team in the area, said: "The eagles can often be seen hunting along the shoreline at Tentsmuir, especially when they are busy providing food for demanding chicks. The guided walks will be a great chance to see these magnificent birds at work, discover more about them and also learn about the re-introduction programme."
White-tailed eagles, or sea eagles, can live for around 30 years and generally form pair bonds for life. They were once a common sight across Scotland but were driven to extinction by persecution, with the last British bird shot in Shetland in 1918. Reintroduction into Scotland has taken place in three phases starting in 1975. The east Scotland reintroduction was the third phase. It was a partnership between Forest Enterprise Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and RSPB Scotland with funding from Leader (2011-2013) and the Heritage Lottery Fund (2011-2014).
For updates and more information about the East Scotland Sea Eagles visit www.rspb.org.uk/community/ourwork/b/eastscotlandeagles/default.aspx.
1. Sea eagles are the UK's largest birds of prey. Also called white-tailed eagles, they were a common sight across Scotland in the 19th century, until they were persecuted to extinction. The last British white-tailed eagle was shot in 1918. Two formal reintroductions, releasing a total of 140 birds, were carried out on Rum (1975 to 1985) and Wester Ross (1993-1998). These birds have gone on to establish an increasing breeding population on the west coast of Scotland. A third re-introduction phase of 85 of these magnificent birds on the east coast of Scotland between 2007 and 2012, will help make the Scottish sea eagle population stronger, and allow them to re-establish across the country much sooner. In 2013, for the first time in almost 200 years, sea eagles bred successfully in East Scotland.
2. East Scotland Sea Eagles (ESSE) is a partnership project between RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland. This project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (2011-2014), the Scottish Government, and the European community Leader in Fife and Rural Tayside (2011-2013).
3. Forest Enterprise Scotland is part of Forestry Commission Scotland. It is the government agency that's responsible for managing Scotland's National Forest Estate.
4. The RSPB is the UK's largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. We play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations.