Finding the First White-Tailed Eagle Nest - by Sarah Underwood

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Finding the First White-Tailed Eagle Nest - by Sarah Underwood

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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!!


  • Brilliant Sarah.  Wildlife can be so rewarding, and raptors are top of the tree!