Sea eagles set to soar across Borders after chick fledges

White-tailed Eagle perched on rock stretching wings August 1997
White-tailed Eagle perched on rock stretching wings August 1997

Giant white-tailed sea eagles could soon be a more common sight in skies over the Borders after news that a chick, the first born on the east coast for almost 200 years, has now fledged.

The chick was born earlier this summer to a pair released in 2009 and which nested in a Forestry Commission Scotland wood in Fife.

Between 2007-2012, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland, with additional financial support from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Fife and Rural Tayside LEADER Programme, reintroduced a total of 85 eagles to Scotland’s east coast.

Ron Macdonald, Scottish Natural Heritage’s head of policy and advice, said: “With the west coast eagles already established, this is a good step towards a healthy population of sea eagles across the country.”

Once a frequent sight in Scotland’s skies, the white-tailed eagle was driven to extinction in the Victorian era, with the last native bird being shot on Shetland in 1918.

However, the species was reintroduced to Scotland following a successful pilot project launched on Rum in 1975.

East Coast Sea Eagles Project Officer Rhian Evans says there have already been a number of sightings of the large raptors in Berwickshire and that there is no reason they could not spread inland.

“The juveniles are very nomadic and areas with large bodies of water and woodland will be attractive to them,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Borders’ tiny number of golden eagles has also been in the news, after it was revealed that two young females had attempted to breed with older males in the Borders and Aberdeenshire.

Although the eggs did not hatch, probably due to the females being only three years old instead of four to six years old, the breeding attempts are being seen as significant.