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Romance takes flight between eagle pair

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By Fiona Reid
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Romance takes flight between eagle pair

LOVE is in the air above Annandale . . . between two golden eagles.

There is great excitement among wildlife enthusiasts at the budding romance between female bird Beaky and male Skan.

They were seen performing an undulating flight together,  pictured, which is a classic sign of courtship behaviour.

And the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project say it is the first time that such behaviours have been witnessed since the pair were translocated to the area in 2018 and 2019.

Eagle project officer and raptor expert John Wright was lucky to see the display and said it is often how the species communicates with each other prior to mating.

Explaining what he saw, John said: “I could see from the tag data that Beaky was in an accessible position, so being careful not to disturb her, I went to check how she was doing. When I got there, I was delighted to find both eagles sitting a few metres apart on the fence, looking like they’d both just had a good feed.

“As the cloud cleared, they took to the skies, shadowing each other, wing-tip to wing-tip. Skan (the male) appeared more dominant. Beaky rolled on to her back several times, legs outstretched and talons splayed, as Skan closely tailed her. It was an absolutely spectacular display which lasted about eight minutes before they went their separate ways.

Left awestruck, John added: “While it’s difficult to say for sure, and Skan in particular is very young for an eagle to settle down, these amazing behaviours had elements commonly associated with eagles attracting a mate.

“It was a truly beautiful sight and such a privilege to witness it first-hand.”

The interaction is potentially a significant milestone for the project and partners RSPB Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates, Scottish Forestry, NatureScot and the Southern Uplands Partnership.

Francesca Osowska, from NatureScot, said: “Golden eagles are one of Scotland’s most majestic birds and used to be plentiful across Scotland. We work to enrich nature across Scotland, including returning wildlife to places where it used to thrive. This is a brilliant project which does exactly that, increasing breeding pairs of golden eagles in south Scotland.

“I am absolutely thrilled to hear of this spectacular interaction between Beaky and Skan, and I hope that this is a further indication of golden eagles establishing a strong base in the south of Scotland.”

Before the project began, there was only between two and four pairs of golden eagles across Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders.

But since 2018, the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project has successfully translocated four golden eagles from the Scottish Highlands to the area. They have all settled into their new habitats and are fending for themselves.

There are plans to bring more next year.

To find out more, go to www.goldeneaglessouthofscotland.co.uk

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