Whtie-tailed eagle leaving cage. Photo by Andy Hay (RSPB Images)

Its been a busy couple of days getting things set up for release and bringing up a couple of local people for the last feeds and it was a relief to remember where I’d put the hatch lock keys!

The birds have been stretching and flapping their wings for a little while now and seem eager to go.

We got into hides at 4am on the 10th August and Andrew went to open the hatches. We did this when it was still gloomy as we didn’t want the birds to see us and get spooked and not want to come out. It turns out we didn’t need to worry about that!

We opened two cages, releasing four birds, the first bird to go was number ‘7’ (a female) who ignored all the perches we’d spent ages building and just flew off with slow floppy wing flaps and without a backwards glance! The other three quickly followed, bird ‘T’ stopped on one of the perches for a quick breather before flying off and the others soon disappeared after them! Bird ‘H’ flew off with a bit more style, breaking into a glide after gaining a bit of height. It was an amazing feeling of relief to see them fly off and we emerged from the hides in a state of disbelief that it was all over so quickly.

Before leaving the wood we had a quick look to see where they’d gone, one had landed in a field and another in an oak tree. Its incredible to realise that with their small brains the decisions involved in flying and landing are all instinct.

Andrew and I came back in the evening with the radio receiver and aerial to check where they were roosting, we were driving up a hill about a kilometre from the release site where we planned to do the tracking and were shocked to see one of the birds sat on a stone wall next to the road! It flew off lazily as the truck approached sending up crows in its midst. The eagles were definitely making their presence felt.