White-tailed eagle chick hatches in Orkney for first time in 140 years

Eagle in flight Image copyright Raymond Besant
Image caption RSPB Scotland said the behaviour of the parents suggested there may be two chicks

A white-tailed eagle chick has successfully hatched in Orkney for the first time in more than 140 years, RSPB Scotland has said.

One chick has been seen on the island of Hoy, however staff from the wildlife charity believe the behaviour of the parents suggests there may be two.

The nest is perched high on a cliff face.

Also known as sea eagles, it is five years since these birds reappeared in Orkney.

The white-tailed eagle became extinct in Britain when the last bird was shot in Shetland in 1918.

Despite a lengthy reintroduction scheme from the 1970s, their numbers remain low.

‘Always uncertain’

RSPB Scotland’s Hoy warden Lee Shields 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.

“Everybody was so excited when the first pair arrived and we’ve been keeping our fingers crossed for this ever since. 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.

“Even though they hadn’t nested here since 1873, white-tailed eagles have long been associated with Orkney’s natural and cultural heritage. Now we’re just hoping that the chicks do well as it’s always uncertain with first-time parents.”

Image copyright Raymond Besant

RSPB Scotland is running “Eaglewatch” every day in the nearby Dwarfie Stone car park to allow people to catch a glimpse of them without disturbing the new parents and their young.

Another male eagle – estimated to be about three years old – has also been observed on the island.

Images of the parents in flight were captured by nature cameraman Raymond Besant.



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