Golden eagle chicks are translocated to secret location in the southern uplands

The South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project has successfully transported eight golden eagle chicks from the Highlands to a secret location in the southern uplands.

Thursday, 9th September 2021, 11:23 am
Before the project began, there was only between two and four pairs of golden eagles across Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders, however a supporting study by NatureScot shows that the local habitat is suitable for up to 16 pairs. Pic: Phil Wilkinson
Before the project began, there was only between two and four pairs of golden eagles across Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders, however a supporting study by NatureScot shows that the local habitat is suitable for up to 16 pairs. Pic: Phil Wilkinson

This brings the total number of golden eagles successfully translocated to the area to 12 – already almost doubling the local population of golden eagles.

The eight newly fledged eagle chicks have been named by a range of individuals and organisations, including BBC Autumnwatch and Springwatch presenter Iolo Williams, renowned wildlife film maker Gordon Buchanan, Moffat Mountain Rescue, Southern Uplands Moorland Group, Golden Eagle Champion Lorna Slater MSP, local school children, Daniel Lacey (a volunteer who built aviaries for the chicks) and the project team.

Blackadder screenwriter Richard Curtis and actor Rowan Atkinson have also given permission to officially name one of the birds ‘Speckled Jim’ – after General Melchett's favourite carrier pigeon, as he has a very unusual speckled plumage.

The other birds’ names include Iona, Sinclair, Ellenabeich ‘Ellena’, Heather, (Golden) Shine and Emma (named after the women’s equality and rights champion Emma Ritch).

News of the birds’ translocation comes as the Project prepares to host the UK’s first Golden Eagle Festival in Moffat, funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The festival takes place from September 19-26, and has been organised to help secure vital support for the charity’s continued conservation efforts and celebrate Moffat becoming the UK’s first Eagle Town.

With a keynote speech by Gordon Buchanan, a family fun day, a Big Tree Climb, and live music sessions, the festival will also showcase ways in which people can help golden eagles to flourish in southern skies once again.

Cat Barlow, project manager, said: “Covid-19 affected so many of our plans last year, so it is absolutely amazing now to see these eight youngsters settling into the south and soaring majestically above the Moffat Hills.

"We are truly thrilled to host our first Eagle Festival to celebrate the new arrivals and thank all our supporters for the vital contributions they make to helping us increase the golden eagle population in the south of Scotland.”