Volunteers help build golden eagle’s nest and conservation takes off

A man-made nest carefully constructed by volunteers by placing sticks on a remote cliff where the remains of an old nest had been, has encouraged and indeed succeeded in attracting a golden eagle to rear her young on a Highland estate for the first time in 40 years.

Golden eagle and nest. Photo: MARK HAMBLIN.

It has been described as a rewilding success story beyond the wildest dreams of some conservationists. Doug Gilbert, the manager of the Dundreggan estate near Loch Ness is delighted. Stuart Ben of the Highland Raptor Study Group said:

This is terrific news; the first time golden eagles have definitely bred at Dundreggan since 1980. Eagles are undergoing a marked expansion in the Highlands, re-colonising ground they haven’t been on for many years and colonising new areas.

Dundreggan is a 10,000 acre former deer stalking estate. It is owned by a charity dedicated to rewilding the Highlands called Trees for Life. It was bought by them in 2008.

They have helped restore the natural habitat by planting trees and increasing the numbers of black grouse which is a bird upon which the eagles prey. Their population has risen to 508 pairs. They are, however, allegedly still illegally killed by gamekeepers running grouse moorlands for commercial shooting. In May, a tagged golden eagle disappeared off the radar and is believed to have been killed by a gamekeeper although no criminality has been established. The Scottish Land & Estates representative said that they had fully cooperated with the police.