First sea ea­gle chick for 140 years in Orkney

Birds: Species rein­tro­ducd in 2013

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS -

A white-tailed ea­gle chick has suc­cess­fully hatched in Orkney for the first time in 140 years.

The bird, also known and recog­nised as a sea ea­gle, is the first to hatch fol­low­ing un­suc­cess­ful nest­ing at­tempts in 2015 and 2016 by its par­ents in Hoy.

Lee Shields, RSPB Scot­land’s Hoy war­den, said: “It’s fan­tas­tic that the eggs laid in spring have hatched, the first suc­cess­ful breed­ing sea­son here since the 19th cen­tury.

“This breed­ing at­tempt is still at the early stages, with young of­ten in the nest for up to 14 weeks.

“We were hugely dis­ap­pointed when a pre­vi­ous pair aban­doned the ter­ri­tory last year.

“So to have at least one chick now is even more spe­cial.”

Sea ea­gles were rein­tro­duced to Orkney five years ago af­ter an ab­sence of 95 years. A na­tional rein­tro­duc­tion pro­gramme in the 1970s has seen sea ea­gles suc­cess­fully be­come main­stays of the UK wildlife scene af­ter the species was wiped out in 1918, when the last known bird was shot on Shet­land. It is not known whether the pair of sea ea­gles on Hoy are from the Scot­tish main­land or if they have trav­elled from Scan­di­navia.

Mr Shields added: “Even though they hadn’t nested here since 1873, white­tailed ea­gles have long been as­so­ci­ated with Orkney’s nat­u­ral and cul­tural her­itage. Our re­serve in Hoy is al­ready home to hen har­ri­ers, great skuas, red-throated divers and more, so to see the ea­gles re­turn shows how spe­cial this en­vi­ron­ment is.

“Now we’re hop­ing the chicks do well as it’s al­ways un­cer­tain with first-time par­ents.”

An Ea­gle­watch pro­gramme is be­ing run by the RSPB from Dwarfie Stone car park al­low­ing vis­i­tors and bird watch­ers to get a glimpse of the chick and par­ents. It is es­ti­mated Scot­land now has over 100 breed­ing pairs of sea ea­gles.

WHERE EA­GLES DARE: One of the par­ents of the white-tailed ea­gle chick

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