2015 saw five chicks fledge from territories across the East of Scotland. Two pairs that had not been successful before fledged twins – one of these pairs was in the Angus glens. This pair attempted in 2014 but failed before the eggs hatched. On closer analysis it was found that the eggs were infertile - probably due to the inexperience of the male who at the time was just three years old. In 2015 however, the pair raised two strong chicks on a diet consisting mainly of lagomorphs!
Both chicks were wing tagged and fitted with satellite transmitters. It is important for us to be able to gauge the survival of the wild-fledged young from the East of Scotland. After losing both wild-fledged young from our Fife nest in 2013 and 2014, it seems all the more important to understand what’s happening to this new generation, and whether there are further issues that need to be addressed before determining the success of the project.
This new white-tailed eagle population core that is forming now across the east of Scotland are using the landscape in a different way than their counterparts on the west coast, with different land use here in the east, and different prey available to them. We have a lot to learn about what is important to them and how they disperse if we are to continue to protect them in the future.
"White K" and his sibling "White E" in their nest.
The satellite tagged youngster from Angus - “White K”(named after the colour and letter on his wing tag) and his recent travels have shown us all of these things. “White K” left his natal area around the 19th of September, but remained in the Angus glens until the 11th of October. From the 23rd of October, both “White K” and another satellite tagged youngster from a nest in Speyside started using the same roosts independently and occasionally simultaneously, and both spent a significant amount of time in Deeside and in the northern Angus glens during winter -probably making the most of deer the grallochs available on the higher slopes!
With daylight length increasing, weather improving and the bird becoming more confident on the wing, he started making some epic journeys across Scotland! This is typical of young white-tailed eagles as they spend the first few years of their lives exploring the landscape and visiting other birds before finding a territory for themselves at around 4-5 years old.
By the 20th of February, “White K” was spending time in Aberdeenshire – this is his most northerly haunt to date. However, on the 21st he had started to head south back to Deeside where he had been roosting previously, before heading south west through Glen Shee and roosting near Pitlochry in Perthshire. As if that wasn’t far enough, the following day, he passed Blair Atholl, and flew across Lochs Tay and Earn before settling to roost for the evening just east of Loch Lomond. Clearly not fazed by this, “White K” turned West, crossing Loch Lomond and Loch Goil before eventually reaching the eastern shores of Loch Fyne where he spend the next few days!
Google Earth map of "White K"'s journey to Loch Fyne from Aberdeenshire.
After spending a few days exploring this beautiful part of Argyll, “White K” retraced his route, and from Strachur, he headed East once again, crossing Loch Katrine through Strathyre to Lochearnhead where he soared over the ridge between Loch Tay and Loch Earn. On Saturday the 3rd of March he was spotted soaring above the Perthshire glens interacting with a young golden eagle. He sat and watched while the golden eagle ate a mountain hare.
We hope that “White K”’s spectacular and adventurous journeys will continue until he finds a mate in a few years’ time and raises chicks of his own.