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Rare sea eagles successfully rear chick in Fife during lockdown

Turquoise 1 in flight.
Turquoise 1 in flight.

A pair of sea eagles released in 2009 as part of a reintroduction project have successfully reared a chick in Fife during lockdown.

In 2007, Turquoise 1 and her mate Turquoise Z, named after their coloured wing-tags, were the first pair of sea eagles to successfully rear a chick on the east coast of Scotland since the 1870s.

The chick in flight.

Sea eagles normally pair for life, but for the last few years male Turquoise Z has paired with a female called Red Z nesting in the Angus Glens.

This spring the turquoise pair were spotted together again at their nest site in Fife.

Normally a team of around 30 RSPB Scotland volunteers share nest-watch duties to keep the nest safe, but that was not possible this year due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

Luckily three local volunteers were able to follow government guidance by viewing the nest during their daily exercise.

The newly fledged chick appears to be a male and is doing well.

Scott Shanks, RSPB Scotland Conservation Officer, said: “We are very thankful to the dedicated trio of volunteers who cycled to the nest site each day and braved swarms of midges and the full range of Scottish weather to keep a watch on the nest.

“By chance, one of the volunteers was present when rival female Red Z suddenly turned up at the nest in Fife.

“After quite a bit of drama the turquoise pair were able to chase her off and get back to the nest.

“Despite initial worries that the eggs may have been damaged during the confrontation, a few weeks later it became obvious that the parents were feeding a newly-hatched eagle chick.”

Gareth Mason, Forest and Land Scotland Environment Ranger, said: “We are delighted to have a sea eagle chick fledge successfully in one of our east coast forests.

“It’s a very welcome change of fortune compared to the last few seasons.”

“Hopefully, this change in fortune will continue and that in future more of our forests will be home to these magnificent birds.”

Sea eagles are the UK’s largest bird of prey.

After being persecuted to extinction in the UK by the early 20th century, sea eagles returned following a re-introduction programme that begun in 1975 on the Isle of Rum, followed by further re-introductions in the 1990s in Wester Ross.

The East of Scotland reintroduction project saw 85 sea eagles reintroduced to the east coast between 2007 and 2012.

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