Here is a beautifully written account by Sarah of how she came accross the nest in Fife. Sarah has been a dedicated and enthusiastic volunteer on the east Scotland sea Eagle project since 2009.
"It was a glorious day and even though both Rhian and I were probably secretly hoping for some sort of nesting behaviour when she sent me off to 'see what they were up to' it was never mentioned and I never thought for one minute that really I would find anything. They were only four after all. We all know that white tailed eagles don't mature until they are five. It was too exciting a prospect to even begin to allow myself to think it. I had already identified their rough location in the woods from scanning at the top of a local hill so off I went to find the male simply because he was the closest to where I was parked. Its very difficult using the scanner in amoungst trees as the signal bounces around and a couple of times I headed one way to find I should have been going the opposite way. I was constantly peering into the trees for a perching bird. I began to think that I was simply chasing the bird through the trees as he kept gliding on before I could see him. But finally the signal got stronger and stronger and I just knew he was close. I crawled under trees following a badger track and all of a sudden there he was, flushed from a tree five metres away. I couldn't understand why I hadn't seen him before until I looked up at the tree and thought 'surely not!'. And there it was, a thick collection of sticks right at the top of a fairly small pine tree. That was why I didn't spot a perching bird - he was hunkered down in a nest! I didn't believe it at first and walked around for a better view. All the while the male kept a close eye on me and circled over head several times, calling out. I could see him turning his head this way and that as he looked at me and he flew right over the nest as if to check that all was still as it should be. It was this behaviour that clinched it as he was obviously keen not to desert whatever was there. I was now hopeful for an egg. I stood there for a minute with the biggest smile on my face, in the silence and the sunshine, with this majestic male eagle gliding over my head, the only sound the wind in his wings, and I let the enormity of what I had found wash over me. And what makes it really special for me is the fact that they are 2009 birds. As a new volunteer in 2009, these were my first experience of chicks in the aviary. Claire allowed me to help with their feeds several times and I tracked them around the release woods when they first fledged. To see the male that day with his glorious white tail, the sign of his maturity, protecting his nest, was really special. The moment will stay with me forever."
Thank you Sarah and well done!!
After months of anticipation, I can finally announce that the first white-tailed eagle chick has fledged from a nest in the east of Scotland in over 200 years!
A pair of four-year old birds (released in 2009) nested and successfully raised a single chick in a Forestry Commission wood in Fife.
Project volunteer Sarah Underwood found the nest whilst radio tracking in May, and the nest has been monitored closely since by project staff. My next blog will be a piece from Sarah describing how she came across the nest and what it was like to be a part of history!
This is a milestone achievement in the conservation of white-tailed eagles in Scotland. We are finally achieving what the East of Scotland project set out to do, which is to increase the range expansion of white-tailed eagles to what it was before the birds became extinct in 1918. Let’s hope this nest is the first of many more in the east of Scotland in years to come.
This could not have been achieved without the hard work, dedication and support of so many people; volunteers, landowners and especially our project partners in Norway who are also delighted with the news.
The chick was fitted with white wing tags with the black number “1” by experienced and licensed ringers.
David Millar has done a great job at covering it on the BBC website here, with quotes from Paul Wheelhouse; Minister for the Environment, and Start Housden; Director of RSPB Scotland, and the RSPB press release is now up on the website.
We are all delighted with this event, and very excited to see how the first wild fledged chick will fare here in the East with an adult pair to learn from.
Here is a photo of "13White1" on the nest shortly before fledging (photo by Jacob Davies)