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Loch Ness sporting estates helping projects to re-establish golden eagles in south of Scotland

By Calum MacLeod

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SPORTING estates near Loch Ness are helping golden eagles to re-establish themselves in the south of Scotland following the success of their own breeding project.

The Highland golden eagle project, which brings together sporting estates and public sector bodies, has already seen one of the Highlands’ most iconic bird species increase its numbers and the territory it occupies in the Monadhliath mountains and the north west Cairngorms National Park area.

Where brood size has allowed, some Highland estates have been able to transfer eagle chicks for reintroduction to the Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway through the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project.

Jenny McCallum, who leads the Loch Ness Rural Communities Group, said: “The estates in the Loch Ness area are very proud of the golden eagle population improvements over the last decade.

“Estates are making long-term commitments to these initiatives, which can be very time-consuming and resource-intensive. This kind of strategy is clearly the way forward to provide a healthy and diverse landscape with habitats suitable for a range of different species. Working collaboratively benefits landowners and public sector bodies.”

Other raptors are benefitting too under other partnership projects such as Heads Up For Harriers, where cameras are used to monitor hen harrier nests and the data gathered is used to understand why some nests fail.

Moorland estates have been working with raptor experts in Speyside and across the Highlands to help the species to breed successfully.

Birds of prey are not the only ones to benefit from such partnerships. Farms and estates are also contributing to the Working for Waders initiative to help reverse the decline of breeding wader populations in Scotland.

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