A pair of golden eagles has successfully reared a chick in an artificial nest at Trees for Life’s flagship Dundreggan rewilding estate in Glenmoriston between Loch Ness and Skye – marking the first known return of the spectacular birds of prey to breed at the Highlands site in 40 years.
The eagle chick flew from the nest for the first time last week – some five years after a Trees for Life team and renowned conservationist Roy Dennis MBE of the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation set up an eagle nest or eyrie at a prime location to entice the birds of prey back.
There was no certainty the project would work. Golden eagles build their own nests in remote and inaccessible places, and are highly sensitive to disturbance.
“This is a rewilding success story beyond our wildest dreams. I’ve been checking the eyrie regularly since we built it in 2015, hoping to see evidence that the eagles had returned – and now they have. As golden eagles may use their nesting sites for generations, we’re hoping they are back for the long-term,” said Doug Gilbert, Trees for Life’s Dundreggan Manager. “Four decades without golden eagles breeding or establishing themselves in this part of our wild and beautiful Highland glen have been four decades too long. When we built the artificial nest, we knew it was in a good location for eagles because we found the remains of an old nest at the site. We’ve been keeping our fingers crossed for the past five years, and it’s wonderful that our efforts have paid off like this.”
Golden eagles – regarded by many people as Scotland’s national bird – are regularly seen over Dundreggan, but until now there has been no sign of them nesting or setting up a territory.
Highland Raptor Study Group member and golden eagle expert Stuart Benn 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 just now, recolonising ground they haven’t been on for many years and even colonising some completely new areas.”