Sadly, we confirmed our first casualty of the 2008 released birds in April, a train driver called the office on the 16th April to report a dead sea eagle on the tracks near Greenloaning. The bird’s radio-transmitter had been damaged by the collision so it took a little while to find her; unfortunately, it was ring number 80, our largest female, weighing 6kg. Sea eagles are sometimes casualties of train collisions in Germany and Norway and this is also a cause of death for carrion eating red kites in Scotland. She was in great physical condition and only 2 days before had been flying over Tentsmuir over 45 miles away. The positive to take from this is that she had made it to a year old and was able to survive and forage in the environment.

On a more positive note, Scottish Power recently completed erection of six alternative perches to try to reduce the risk of electrocution around the release site. The birds are particularly vulnerable in the first few weeks when they are floppy, laborious fliers, looking for big obvious things to land on, and we lost two birds to electrocution in 2007, hopefully this work will prevent this happening near the release site.

We have had two sightings of three-year-old west coast birds on the east recently. The first was spotted and photographed at Loch Leven by Colin Fraser on the 21st April. Three weeks later a three year old male, tag ‘O’ who was fledged by Frisa and Skye on Mull in 2006 (and last spotted on Skye last Spring) was spotted at Loch Davan, near Dinnet. This is not far from where our 2008 female ‘Ardmore’ has been. We do not know if this is the same bird as at Loch Leven as it was not possible to read the tags on the first bird. Sea eagles are extremely sociable and we hope that these are the first signs of west coast birds wandering east.

Female 5 from the 2007 release is still on Mull and has been seen hanging out with a male, ‘E’ fledged from Mull in 2007. Meanwhile bird 7 shot up to North Ronaldsay and then onto Fair Isle before heading to mainland Shetland. I’m told she took less than 40 minutes to do each leg, beating the previous wandering sea eagle to make the crossings by 5 minutes! She had been on Mull since December, but had popped into the communal roost near Perth on the 29th March before heading north.

Closer to home, a male (87) and female (93) have both flown over the release site in the last couple of weeks and with other birds are still using the communal roost near Perth.

Preparations for the next batch of chicks are ongoing, we got our large kennels sent over to Norway today and I picked up our first lot of fish for the freezer, some fish farm escapee Pollack and some netted pike, the latter was a particular favourite of the birds last year!

If you haven’t already done so, please take a moment to sign the petition to stop poisoning Ireland’s eagles at:

www.goldeneagle.ie

More information on the Irish sea eagle re-introduction and the problems they are facing with persecution through poisoned meat baits can be found here.