Homemade nest lures golden eagles back to estate for first time in 40 years

The Dundreggan estate in the Highlands has seen its first golden eagle chick fledge in 40 years, thanks to a nest homemade by a conservationist there.

80-year-old renowned conservationist Roy Dennis MBE created a homemade nest from arm-sized sticks and rope.

In time, a pair of golden eagles built their own ‘vast structure’ on top and began mating before having their eggs.

It was no easy task to set this up, particularly as they couldn’t observe very regularly due to the eagle’s propensity to be easily disturbed. In fact, it’s been five years since that original eyrie was built.

The golden eagle was exterminated from England and Wales 1850, and although some survived in Scotland, this was in very small numbers.

The reintroduction is all part of an effort with Trees for Life, who are working to rewild the Highlands – specifically the Dundreggan Estate located in between Loch Ness and Skye – and bring back other animals including wild boar and red squirrels.

Dundreggan manager, Doug Gilbert said: ‘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.’

The success comes after an eagle called Tom who was introduced to the Perthshire area was reported missing despite being tracked by Raptor Persecution UK.

Doug continues: ‘I do worry for the safety of the chick. They are renowned for wandering quite far distances.

‘There are several black spots where eagles regularly disappear. Some of them are well within range of a young golden eagle – just 50 km away, and chicks can travel for 100-150km.

‘What we are doing here won’t change the course of history.

‘But if we can produce one chick, rather than one being killed somewhere else, then it’s a good thing.’

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