Weekly update from Stuart Benn, RSPB Conservation Manager in North Scotland.

The Eagle has Landed

I had to paint a ceiling at the weekend but, whilst it took Michelangelo four years to manage that with the Sistine Chapel, I was done in a couple of hours.  And with the days drawing out, that still left plenty of time to get out on to the hill to see how the eagles were doing.

Although my observations are interesting, they become much more important when added to everybody else’s efforts and it all helps to build up a picture of how eagles are doing across Scotland.  And people giving up their time and expertise like this is replicated not just across birds but other wildlife and habitat management too- not to mention the million and one other ways that folk get involved with volunteering.

Getting info and work like this done just wouldn’t happen if it all had to be paid for. Fortunately for us, people volunteer because they enjoy it and a big part of that is the social dimension.  I love hearing about everyone else’s eagle experiences, their joys and frustrations and you get to see some great images too.  How about this one that I was sent at the start of the week?!

Pic of Golden eagle and rising moon by Ronan Dugan

Unfortunately, Golden eagles are still largely hill birds in the UK – restricted to the places where they are left alone.  The situation is slowly improving but we’ve got a long way to go and a look to the continent shows how things could be.

Last autumn, we spent a couple of week’s holiday in Southern Scandinavia and Northern Germany and one of things I wanted to see most was the breeding Golden eagles of Denmark.  Yes, Denmark – flat, agricultural and seemingly as far away from our idea of what eagles need as it is possible to imagine.

But it’s true, Golden eagles now nest in Denmark and we watched them hunting across fields – it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen and it completely changed my view as to where birds and other wildlife can live if we just give them the chance.

Golden eagle habitat – Denmark style

So, if you were a volunteer at Denmark’s Lille Vildmose you would be able to look up from sea level and see Golden eagles and Cranes flying overhead.  Cranes are increasing in numbers in the UK and are moving north under their own steam so we just need to couple that with a more enlightened view towards eagles and, hopefully, it won’t be too long before we can look up and see them both in the lowlands of the Scottish Highlands!  What a sight that would be!