A breeding pair of golden eagles in Orkney earlier this year were unsuccessful in their attempt to raise chicks. The pair’s chicks had initially been seen in May at RSPB Scotland’s nature reserve on a remote island called Hoy.
It’s not known how many chicks there were, because observation of the nest was from far away as golden eagles are very sensitive to disturbance. However the behaviour of the birds later in the month led the charity to believe that the nest was not doing well and it has now been confirmed that the chicks died.
RSPB Scotland believe the chicks succumbed to the weather, but believe the pair could return next year.
“The golden eagles failing was disappointing both for us and the local community, as they’ve become very popular here,” says Lee Shields, RSPB’s Hoy warden. “It’s not unusual to see failures with young birds but hopefully they’ve gained some important experience that will bode well for the future. It’s very exciting to see both species of eagles soaring over the hills in Hoy and we’re hoping both will return for a more successful season in 2022.”
The last breeding pair of golden eagles in Orkney lived there between 1966 and 1982. Prior to this, there had a single pair in 1848. The species had once between common in Orkney.
Similarly, white-tailed eagles successfully bred in Orkney in 2018 after an absence of more than 140 years, following a couple of years of unsuccessful nests. The white-tailed eagle was reintroduced to the UK in the 1970s.
Main image: A golden eagle photographed on Hoy, Orkney. © Christine Hall