Sea eagles spotted at Loch Lomond for first time in over a century

Bird went extinct in UK in early 20th century due to hunting and habitat changes

Celine Wadhera
Monday 14 June 2021 17:26
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<p>A pair of white-tailed eagles were spotted ‘nest prospecting’ in Loch Lomond earlier this year</p>

A pair of white-tailed eagles were spotted ‘nest prospecting’ in Loch Lomond earlier this year

Sea eagles have been spotted at Loch Lomond for the first time in more than 100 years.

A pair of sea eagles – also known as white-tailed eagles – were first seen at Loch Lomond national nature reserve in early March.

Experts say that the pair appear to be “nest prospecting,” suggesting that they might be looking to stay in the area.

Nature bodies are working to protect the area and have put an exclusion zone in place to protect the birds, in hopes that they stay in the area and breed.

Sea eagles are the UK’s largest bird of prey, with a wingspan of up to eight feet. They became extinct around 1918 due to hunting and habitat changes, but since the 1970s efforts have been made to reintroduce them into their native habitats.

There are currently thought to be about 150 breeding pairs of sea eagles in the UK.

Paul Roberts, NatureScot’s operations manager said having the eagles in Loch Lomond was “something we are excited about”.

He added: “This is the latest chapter in the continuing success story of sea eagle conservation.

“Along with our partners, we carefully manage the reserve to offer rich and diverse habitats to support a wide range of birds and other wildlife, so it’s very rewarding to see the sea eagles return to Lock Lomond after all these years.

“We’re working closely with Lock Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority (LLTNPA) and RSPB Scotland to protect the birds and we are urging visitors to enjoy the reserve responsibly and make sure they don’t disturb them.”

There are now signs at the loch asking visitors to keep their distance from potential nesting areas. Regular ranger patrols will ensure that the exclusion zone is respected.

Simon Jones, the LLTNPA’s director of environment and visitor services said: “White-tailed eagles are the UK’s largest bird of prey and to have them here in the National Park is something we are excited about.

“We all have a responsibility to help keep these special birds safe and try to minimise disturbance to them.

“We are engaging with a range of stakeholders who may be impacted by the birds’ arrival in the area, including loch users, visitors and local farmers.

“Protecting the natural environment and the wildlife here in the National Park is a priority for the park authority and we have plenty of experience of doing this, including our work to protect nesting ospreys and little ringed plovers, for whom we have put similar protections in place.”

Usually sea eagles prey on fish, seabirds, small game and geese, but they are natural scavengers and have been known to prey on lambs and other livestock.

NatureScot has said that no livestock predation issues related to the Loch Lomond sea eagles have been reported to date.

With Press Association

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