.‘Britain’s largest bird of prey, the white-tailed eagle or sea eagle, is a magnificent, if rare, sight in the wilder reaches of western Scotland. This massive bird, the world’s fourth largest eagle, with a wingspan stretching 8 feet across, became extinct in Britain in 1918. Sea eagles were wiped out in Britain due to excessive hunting and egg collection. The last native pair reproduced in 1916, and then there were no more. They were Britain’s largest bird of prey. In 1975 about 82 of the white-tailed eagles were reintroduced from other countries to the island of Rum, a small island off the coast of Scotland. The current human population is about 20, so the eagles should be relatively safe from poaching. Even though Rum is sparsely populated, the new eagles donated by Norway were released in a secret location.
Because of the reintroduction program and various conservation efforts, there are now 52 breeding pairs of the endangered eagles in Scotland. This year these adult eagles have produced about 46 hatchlings, which is a record for reproducing. Depending on the need, about twenty chicks each year are also being brought from Norway.
“I have no doubt that the successful reintroduction of this magnificent bird can continue, and along with the East Coast Sea Eagle Project, ensures that this species can establish territories right across Scotland, restoring a strong Scotland-wide population,” said Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham. (Source: BBC) Read more: ^http://www.care2.com/greenliving/eagle-population-increasing-in-scotland.html#ixzz1Kbn4PYLe
.Laws were changed during the 1950’s, which helped pave the way for two early attempts at reintroduction in Scotland. A full-scale reintroduction programme got underway on the island of Rum off the west coast of Scotland in 1975 with 82 birds taken from Norway. The birds were released over a ten-year period and the first breeding success was recorded in 1985. A further 58 young Norwegian eagles were released onto the Scottish mainland and the first of these began to breed in 1998. In 2004, the population is thought to consist of around 80-90 individuals residing in 26 different territories. With the reintroduction programme now complete, Scottish sea eagles are entirely reliant upon Scottish bred young to continue the population. Sea eagles can now be seen on Mull, Skye and passing over many of the other western isles, although it is still a rarity.
Despite its protected status, sea eagles are still persecuted in Scotland. David Sexton, a The white-tailed eagle – also known as the sea eagle or white-tailed sea eagle – is a huge bird with broad wings up to 245 cm (over 8 feet) wide. White-tailed eagles became extinct in Britain in the early 1900s and despite a lengthy re-introduction scheme, their numbers in Scotland are still very low. The work to reintroduce the species has been hampered by the theft of eggs. This has led to local initiatives, such as Mull Eagle Watch, to help protect eagle nests.[Source: Wildlife Scotland, ^http://wildlife.visitscotland.com/sitewide/featurerepos/sea_eagle/] . .
HabitatThe small population of white-tailed eagle in Britain is found only in the highlands and islands of the west of Scotland. Scottish white-tailed eagles prefer sheltered lochs or sea lochs rather than exposed coastal sites. They also prefer to nest in trees rather than on cliffs. On average, their territories range from 30 – 70 km2, but much larger territories are possible depending on the availability of prey. In Britain, white-tailed eagles are non-migratory. Breeding adults stay close to their breeding territory throughout the year. Non-breeding birds may range quite widely to find sufficient food. White-tailed Sea Eagle ^http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/glasgow_and_west/8465271.stm
ThreatsWhite-tailed eagles have no natural predators in Britain. The only threat to the bird’s continued re-colonisation in Scotland is from human activity, by poisoning or stealing eggs, and from degradation of habitat and food resources. Royal Society for the protection of birds (RSPB) officer based on the Island of Mull explains:
.“An adult was poisoned in the Highlands in 2003. Its mate died the same way in 2002, so there are still problems for them. Egg collecting is still a threat but local community watches and the police operation against nest robbers – Operation Easter – successfully kept it at bay in 2003.”
In total five birds have been killed since the reintroductions began.
‘The last recorded native white-tailed eagle in Britain was a rare albino (all-white) eagle that was shot in Shetland in 1917.’White-tailed Sea Eagle [Source: ^http://bishopstownhc.blogspot.com/2010/01/bhc-members-spot-white-tailed-sea-eagle.html]
Sea eagles given more protection
[BBC, 23 March 11, ^http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/mobile/uk-scotland-12828674]
‘Sea eagles are to be given further protection in a new three-year scheme.
The £80,000 project involves Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) working with farmers and crofters to help the birds throughout the areas where they breed.
Scotland’s sea eagle population has reached a record high since the birds were re-introduced on the Isle of Rum 36 years ago. But they are still considered to be rare with just 52 adult breeding pairs across the country.
Sea eagles lay up to three eggs in March with chicks leaving the nest in late July or August.
SNH will help to protect the birds, which usually nest in trees.
Stuart Housden, director of RSPB Scotland, said: “We are really pleased to have been involved in the development of workable measures that help support the conservation and management of these magnificent birds.”
The scheme will focus on agreements with farmers and crofters as well as promoting the birds potential for tourism.
Jonnie Hall, head of rural policy for NFU Scotland, said: “The aims and measures of the new scheme clearly reflect the inter-dependence of conservation and farming interests.”
An advisory panel will be set up to guide SNH on the key priorities. It hopes the scheme will be running by late spring or early summer.‘
White-tailed Sea Eagle
The Golden Eagle
The Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) ^http://tohatchacrow.blogspot.com/2010/12/irish-farmers-suspected-in-another.html
ALMA is dead – POISONED – 30th July 2009
“I am truly appalled that yet another golden eagle has been illegally killed in Scotland – the second this summer.”
~ Scotland’s Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham.
Of course, the nature and remoteness of these businesses make them impossible to police effectively; but all the more reason to hand out exemplary sentences, including jail, when case are proven – not only to the keeper, but to the landlord.”
~ Alistair, 20090801.
 Re-Introducing the White Tailed Eagle To Scotland, ^http://www.holidayscotland.org/re-introducing-the-white-tailed-eagle-to-scotland/
 Second Golden eagle found dead Poisoned in Scotland this year (2009), ^http://raptorpolitics.org.uk/?p=502
 White-tailed Eagle Comeback Scheme for Scotland, ^http://www.birdguides.com/webzine/article.asp?a=1045
 Secret release of 19 sea eagles in Scotland, ^http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-11023724
 Young Sea Eagle numbers soaring in Scotland, ^http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-11686816
 Sea eagles thriving on Isle of Mull, ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/glasgow_and_west/8465271.stm
 Wikipedia ^http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White-tailed_Eagle
 New Golden Eagle viewing scheme launched in Scotland, ^http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/golden-eagles_scotland.html
 The Golden Eagle Trust Ltd ^http://www.goldeneagle.ie/
 Wikipedia ^http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Eagle
(above websites accessed 20110426)Golden Eagle © Photo by Tom Elton ^http://naturfototomelton.blogspot.com/
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Tags: egg poaching, golden eagle, Isle of Rum, NFU Scotland, raptor persecution, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottsh farmers poisoning eagles, sea eagle, Threats from Farming, white-tailed eagle, wildlife crime