Scientists at the University of Aberdeen and the RSPB have teamed up to develop a ground-breaking new project called ‘Blogging Birds’. Satellite tags fitted to four red kites are sending information to an automated computer programme that can analyse the tag data and produce a short paragraph, blog-style, about where the birds have been. Find out more information by visiting the project website.
News : Aug 2013
An injured young red kite was found by a member of the public in the village of Leadhills on 8th August. The bird was suffering to such an extent and her injuries were so severe that the most humane option was to put her to sleep, according to the SSPCA news report. A post-mortem revealed she had been shot. The SSPCA is appealing for information about this crime. Leadhills is a known hotspot for the illegal persecution of birds of prey and several gamekeepers have been previously convicted for wildlife crimes in the area. Red kites have been reintroduced into several areas of Scotland, beginning in 1989, and illegal persecution is known to be their greatest threat.
The annual Watson Birds Festival returns to Dalry this year between 20-22 September. The Watson Birds project was established in memory of two legendary ornithologists and Raptor Study Group members, Donald Watson and his son Jeff. There’ll be plenty of family-friendly events during the festival including an art exhibition, a free drop-in bird ringing session, a guided walk and a photography masterclass by celebrated wildlife photographer Laurie Campbell. There will also be two lectures featuring Dr Miguel Ferrer (Spain) discussing the interaction of birds and windfarms, and Richard Evans (RSPB Scotland) discussing his work on the history of eagles in the UK as determined by place names. Keep an eye on the Watson Birds website for details of how to get involved.
Satellite-tracking studies in Scotland have revealed that at least two sub-adult golden eagles attempted to breed this year. The two females were both three years old; the typical breeding age for an adult golden eagle is between 4-6 years. Scottish Natural Heritage has been criticised for suggesting that the breeding attempts could show an ‘upturn’ in the fortunes of golden eagles in Scotland – research has shown that breeding attempts by immature eagles could be an indication of persecution and should be viewed as a warning sign that the population may be in decline. The Scottish Raptor Study Group remains deeply concerned about the unfavourable conservation status of golden eagles in Scotland, and is particularly worried about the on-going persecution of this species on driven grouse moors; this criminal activity remains unchecked and unpunished.
A significant milestone in the East Scotland Sea Eagle Project has been reached with the announcement that this year a breeding pair has successfully raised a chick at a secret location in Fife. The project saw 85 young sea eagles, donated by Norway, released in Fife over a six-year period (2007-2012). This year’s successful breeding pair comprised two birds from the 2009 cohort, now aged four years old. The chick has recently fledged from the nest and is being closely monitored by project staff. Sea eagles still face substantial risks in Scotland, including the threat of illegal persecution. In January this year another sea eagle nest tree in eastern Scotland (on a shooting estate in the Angus Glens) was illegally felled. The police are still investigating that crime. The Scottish Raptor Study Group (whose members have played a part in the East Scotland Reintroduction Project) is thrilled to learn of the successful fledging of the first sea eagle chick and we send warm congratulations to the project team at RSPB Scotland, SNH and Forestry Commission Scotland. View the RSPB press release here.
Following the successful reintroduction of ospreys to Andalusia in southern Spain, involving young ospreys from Scotland, Finland and Germany, a further reintroduction is now underway on the north Spanish coast near Bilbao. Twelve young ospreys have been collected under special licence from nests in Scotland by Raptor Study Group member and international osprey expert Roy Dennis. After a period of acclimatisation in Spain, the young birds have now been released into the wild in an area known to be a migration stop-over point for Scottish ospreys. Read about this five-year project on Roy’s blog.
Two successful hen harrier nests produced ten chicks at the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project this year. Four of this year’s chicks (three females and one male) have now been fitted with satellite tags and members of the public can follow the birds’ movements as they disperse away from the moor. Follow them here.