After spending just over a month in the care of SSPCA, the sea eagle that was rescued from the north Aberdeenshire coast has finally been re-released into the wild. This time, successfully! It was decided to release the bird in Fife in a brief window of good weather on Tuesday.
The bird had been carefully washed several times to remove the grease from his feathers which prevented him from taking off at the previous attempted release at Loch of Strathbeg. He is now in far better condition thanks to SSPCA and flew beautifully from the release site in Fife-he even gave us a fly-by a few minutes later just to show off! He's a very strong bird and I'm sure he will make great progress. His radio transmitter was reattached prior to release allowing me to keep an eye on him for as long as he stays in the area.
The wing tags used in Ireland are slightly different to the ones used here in Scotland-they have a different colour on each wing and you can read the tag from underneath aswell which is quite useful! Keep your eyes peeled for this bird in the skies of Fife!
This photo was taken last year in Ireland by Dick Coombes at Cape Clear.
It has been interesting to observe the dispersal of the second batch of sea eagle chicks, now aged 7-8 months. Five birds have set up a communal roost in the Carse of Gowrie, whilst another four birds continue to roost close to the release site and move throughout Fife. This is a stark contrast to last year’s birds at this time, who had all moved out of Fife, with the majority of birds in a communal roost in Strathbraan. Although birds spent sometime in the Carse, north of the Tay estuary last year, the second batch of birds have lingered here much longer. We carry out extensive screening of health and pollutants when the birds enter Scotland and it will be interesting to see how different factors affect birds survival and health as they grow and disperse or whether this is just down to differences between individuals.
The communal roost near Loch Tay appears to have broken up. Some of last year’s females have been covering a lot of ground, birds 5 and 7 were on Mull on the 17th December but bird 7 was then tracked and seen by two project volunteers near Murthly on the River Tay on the 20th December, covering over 100 miles in 3 days! Here she encountered a 2008 male (ring number 89), who has also been in the area and near Loch of the Lowes since early December.
We had our first confirmed sighting of one of last year’s birds sea fishing just north of Arbroath and have also received more sightings of sea eagles interacting with red kites around the west end of Glen almond in Perthshire.
As well as starting to apply for this year's licences and plan logistics, I am also looking forward to the release of a 20 minute film on the East Scotland project which is due out in February and continuing education and outreach in the local area with our field teachers at our Vane Farm reserve.
Many thanks to everyone who has reported sightings over the Christmas period and best wishes for the New Year.
We recently received some very sad news regarding an Irish released white-tailed eagle that became a bit of a celebrity during his visit to east Scotland last year (see here).
Male tag “3”, affectionately nicknamed “Irish Brian” by his Scottish followers was released in County Kerry in August 2010 and spent is first winter in Kerry and along the coast of west Cork.
He then appeared on the Banffshire coast in October 2011 when a sea kayaker reported seeing an injured white-tailed eagle stranded in a cove. After rescue and a long rehabilitation by SSPCA (see here) he was successfully released from the east Scotland release site in Fife much to the delight of his Scottish fans and project staff!
(Karen Hartnell's artist interpretation of "Irish Brian's" visit.)
He then made his way to Drumpellier country park in Lanarkshire in February this year (see here) where he was photographed by rangers and seen by members of the public. Then suddenly, after disappearing off the radar for a while, project staff in Ireland were delighted to discover that he had made the journey all the way back to Ireland when his signal was detected in west Kerry in September!
Sadly, two months later in November, a mortality signal was detected from his transmitter, and male “3” was found dead on a hillside near Glencar in County Kerry. Unfortunately, the carcase was too decomposed to obtain adequate samples, and therefore the cause of his death will remain unknown. Three Irish released white-tailed eagles were found poisoned in this area in spring 2008 alone. Most poisoning incidents to date in Ireland have been during the lambing season (Feb-May) when poisons have been laid illegally for foxes and crows.
One hundred WTSEs have been released into the wild in Killarney Nat Park, Co. Kerry between 2007-2011, in an effort to re-establish the species in Ireland since its extinction in the early 20th century. In 2012 the project was boosted by the first nesting in the wild in over 100 years when a pair nested in Co. Clare. The Irish White-tailed Sea Eagle Reintroduction project is a collaboration between the Golden Eagle Trust and the National Parks & Wildlife Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht. Visit the project website at www.goldeneagle.ie