Wild wonders: breeding success for rare species

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The nest of the new white-tailed eagle chick in the east of Scotland © Ian Francis RSPB Scotland

The nest of the new white-tailed eagle chick in the east of Scotland © Ian Francis RSPB Scotland

If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise. No, it is not a teddy bear’s picnic, but something even more exciting. For the first time in nearly 200 years, white-tailed eagles have successfully nested in the east of Scotland.

Earlier this week it was confirmed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) that a pair of white-tailed eagles have raised a healthy male chick in Forestry Commission woodland in Fife.

White-tailed eagles, also called sea eagles, or sometimes even white-tailed sea eagles, are the focus of one of the country’s major wildlife reintroduction projects. These great birds of prey were driven to extinction in the Victorian era and in 1918 the last native bird was killed.

In the 1970s and 80s, dozens of the birds were imported from Norway, initially to the Isle of Rum, one of the Small Isles in the west of Scotland.  Since then, the population has steadily increased with nesting eagles settling across the Highlands and Argyll & the Isles – the Isle of Mull is currently home to 15 breeding pairs.

In recent years, white-tailed eagles have been reintroduced to the east coast of Scotland and have been continuously monitored by project staff and volunteers. With more breeding attempts expected in the coming years, the RSPB are encouraging locals and visitors to keep their eyes peeled for sightings of these magnificent birds in the east. If you see a sea eagle, you can get in touch by emailing eastscotlandseaeagles@rspb.org.uk.

New beaver kit in Knapdale 2013 © Rob Needham Scottish Beaver Trial

New beaver kit in Knapdale © Rob Needham Scottish Beaver Trial

In other news, it’s also been a great summer for another wildlife reintroduction programme. Five newly born beavers, known as kits, have been spotted at the site of the Scottish Beaver Trial  in Knapdale, Argyll.

In 2009, beavers were reintroduced to Scotland after vanishing 400 years ago. This groundbreaking project is a study on how beavers can enhance and restore natural environments. It’s also drawn thousands of visitors to the area to see if these creatures are as productive as we’re led to believe – and with the increase in beaver babies, the phrase ‘busy as a beaver’ rings true!

Head to Knapdale Forest to discover the trial site and look out for beaver activity. Currently there are guided tours taking place some evenings on which you have the chance to see the new beaver kits as you explore Dubh Loch, which is home to one of the trial’s four beaver families.

Follow a trained expert on each tour and learn how to spot tell-tale beaver feeding signs. Places are limited on the walks, which are held on Saturday and Tuesday evenings from 6pm and start at the Barnluasgan Information Centre, Knapdale. To book, call 01546 603 346.

There are endless opportunities to spot wildlife in Scotland. Why not start planning your trip today?

Amy Robertson

Amy is media executive at VisitScotland and has previously worked in the Visitor Information Centre in Oban. Hailing from the west coast of Scotland, she likes music festivals, coastal walks, whisky and coal fires.

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