From his nest high up on the south facing cliff an eagle watches as the sun rises in the east, slowly at first as if unsure it will make it up an over the mountain top.
He had lived many years in these glens and mountains distant memories of his first tentative flight out and over the heather moorland far below.
The early morning mist had receded grudgingly to the west and Ullapool far off
today was going to be a good day for the hunt …
by 11.00 0’clock the sun was beating down the skies were a blue of near perfection
He leaned forward on the nest and with one final look at the chicks gently rolled out and over the cliff edge .
Falling 10 feet then 20 he tumbled to the earth far below
but this master of the skies was playing with the air as a champion boxer toys with an opponent he knows he has mastered.
As the speed increased he gently unfurls one wing then the other and dips to his right and away from the cliff edge
The air rushed up and filled the full length of the wings..
Then all below stand in awe and look up at the master of the Scottish highland skies his full wingspan 6 feet and more .
His feathers golden ,his eyes a deep and knowing black .
A loud call that sets of across the distant glens that all Scots know .
To me as a scot whenever i have been away from Scotland ,the two things that would bring a tear to my eye and a longing to be home.
The sound of the bagpipes and the call of the Eagle ….
He set of across the glen to one of his favourite places to hunt
Passing over the river he swooped round sure he had spotted something to the edge of the river
letting the air escape from his wings he glided slowly downward till he was certain
A rabbit lay across a post an EASY meal on this sunny highland day ..
With yet another call ,this time to his partner high up in the nest to let her know he had found some food ..
After a couple of mouth full’s of fresh meat he grasped the rabbit tightly in his mighty talons and leapt into the air ,happy that his family would feed well today …
A few powerful beats from his wings and within seconds he was soaring in an ever increasing circle gaining height faster and faster ,until he had enough height to simply soar to the cliff nest and his family ..
The calls between the family echoed out across the mountains all excited at the thought of the meal
He dipped his wing and headed to the nest
WHEN a pain the like he had never felt shot out and quickly enveloped his whole body ,unsure what was happening he struggled to stay in flight but then more pain filled his body until he lost control of his prey that plummeted to the ground .
He struggled to fly but with total loss of all his muscles his wings folded in a twisted wrap around his body
He called in desperation to his partner a scream this time
no magical call
simply pain and fear .
Then ,and no matter how hard he tried to stop it
the plunge to the ground and death began ..
A final call was quickly followed by a sound i hope to never hear ever again as long as i live ..
The Golden eagle lay on the ground his wings and legs at strange angles every bone has been smashed and a tiny whimper from him said he still tried to battle the poison within ..
High in the cliff the female darted from her nest and dash across the sky soon found her by his side ..
I watched as the female nudged him and called
but i could see his eyes had closed the poison had WON.
For the rest of the day and into the night the female let out call after call to her partner but as the sun rose in the morning she knew he had gone and with the chicks calling for food she had no choice she had to go
so with a final SCREAM to MAN she grabbed the rabbit and headed to the nest .
………..May you continue to soar my friend safe and secure away from man ….
LINKS TO THE DEATH OF EAGLES :
Article: Shocking death of golden eaglehttp://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-182528462.html
Article: Fury as another golden eagle is poisonedhttp://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P2-20504647.html
Article: Oldest known wild golden eagle dies on island of ...
The Independent on Sunday ; August 16, 2009 ; 295 words ... News in brief :: BIRDLIFE The oldest known wild golden eagle in the UK has died, RSPB Scotland said yesterday. The eagle, which was found dead on the island of Jura off the west coast of Scotland, was 22 years old. It ...
Article: Golden eagle is our national bird
The Scotsman ; August 28, 2004 ; James Reynolds Environment Correspondent; 700+ words ... Until that point, the golden eagle - championed by Tory MSP ... Parliament calling for the golden eagle to be officially recognised ... Stuart Housden, director of RSPB Scotland, said: "The golden eagle is a very fitting species ...
Article: Golden Eagle Award awaits champion of conservation
The Sunday Herald ; December 14, 2003 ; Rob Edwards; Environment Editor; 686 words ... Birds (RSPB) in Scotland. The Golden Eagle Award is due to be the highlight of RSPB Scotland's centenary celebrations next ... sending in the form below. The Golden Eagle Award will be presented by broadcaster ...
Article: Fury as another golden eagle is poisoned
The Scotsman ; June 20, 2009 ; FRANK URQUHART; 694 words ... THE killing of a golden eagle in Scotland was condemned ... another poisoning of a golden eagle. This is an unacceptable ... investigations with RSPB Scotland, also hit out at the ... followed the poisoning of a golden eagle in the Borders in August ...
Article: Golden eagle is found poisoned on Deeside
Press and Journal, The Aberdeen (UK) ; July 21, 2006 ; Andy Philip; 462 words ... A Golden eagle poisoned on Deeside earlier this year was found ... across the region to look after wildlife. Senior RSPB Scotland investigations officer Dave Dick said the dead golden eagle was likely to have swallowed the poison close to ...
Article: Golden eagle falls prey to poison bait trap
The Scotsman ; May 24, 2000 ; James Rougvie; 700+ words ... A YEAR-OLD golden eagle has been killed by poison on a Scottish ... 21st century." Keith Morton, RSPB Scotland investigations officer, called ... Stuart Housden, the director of RSPB Scotland, said four golden eagles had been ...
Article: `Disastrous' year for golden eagle killings in ...
The Independent - London ; December 28, 2000 ; Melanie Harvey; 448 words ... THIS YEAR was the worst on record for golden eagle poisoning in Scotland, the Royal Society ... senior investigations officer for the RSPB Scotland, said 2000 had been "disastrous ... estates." Stuart Housden, director of RSPB Scotland, called on estate managers to ensure ...
Article: MSPs reject move for golden eagle to be Scots icon
The Scotsman ; December 6, 2006 ; Hamish Macdonell Scottish Political Editor; 700+ words ... action on behalf of the golden eagle. The decision was ... would help both the golden eagle population and the ... bird protection body RSPB Scotland but both he and The ... national symbol and the golden eagle was already an unofficial ...
Thoughts of the Dafthermit:
To me a wee daft fat bald git who lives in an old bus
The person and people that do this to OUR Golden Eagles
should be dragged to the square in Inverness on a Saturday night
Their balls should be cut off dipped in poison and stuffed down their throats
and finally the talons from the eagle should be rammed up their arse
peace and light ……………………………….
© compiled from Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission sources.
Golden eagles are huge birds of prey
with a wing span of over 2 metres. They
can soar and glide high in the sky using
air currents to help them. They are a
dark brown colour with a paler golden
brown head. Young eagles have white
patches on their wings and tail. Golden
eagles have strong hooked beaks for
tearing the flesh of their prey. Their legs
are feathered and they have strong,
large, yellow feet which they use to grip
and kill animals. Their claws or talons
are sharp and curved and pierce the
body of any animal that they catch.
Golden eagles have large eyes
and very sharp eyesight. They
can see detail several times
better than humans and
can spot a rabbit
Nest and eggs
A golden eagle’s nest, called an eyrie, is
usually found on a mountain ledge or
crag, or in a very tall tree. It is a large,
wide nest, made out of sticks and
branches. The same
eyries are used again
and again. As more
nest material is added
to them over several
years they can grow as
much as 3 metres deep.
Golden eagles lay two
eggs 2–5 days apart. The
female sits on the eggs over
a period of about 6 weeks. The
male brings in food for her and
occasionally takes a turn at
sitting on the eggs.
Both eggs hatch but
usually only one chick
survives to become an adult.
The young birds are covered in fluffy,
white down feathers and look very
different from their parents. They depend
on the parents for food until they are old
enough to hunt for themselves. The
strongest chick takes most of the food
that is brought to the nest. A young
eagle starts to fly when it is about 11
weeks old. During the autumn it stays
with its parents and learns how to hunt.
Eventually it will leave them and look for
a territory of its own.
Food and feeding
Golden eagles feed on medium sized
mammals and birds, including rabbits,
hares and grouse. If they cannot find
these animals they will eat other birds
and mammals. They hunt in several
different ways. Sometimes they soar
high in the sky and then glide or swoop
down quickly in attack. They also hunt
by flying close to the ground, catching
their prey by surprise. They will fly
several miles in search of food.
Instead of hunting for themselves golden
eagles will also eat the bodies of dead
animals, including deer and sheep.
Where do they live?
Golden eagles live in mountain areas
with few trees. They avoid areas that are
farmed or where there are a lot of
A pair of golden eagles occupy a large
area of as much as 30 square miles
which is called their home range. The
home range includes the area within
which they hunt for animals and several
eyries. Part of the range is used only by
the pair and they will defend this as their
Golden eagles and humans
In the past golden eagles, along with
many other birds of prey, were
persecuted by shepherds and
gamekeepers. They are now fully
protected by law but some are still shot,
poisoned and trapped. Golden eagle
nests are also still sometimes robbed of
young birds or eggs.
During the 1950s and 1960s golden
eagles, like other birds of prey, were
affected by the use of new pesticides. It
was later discovered that these
chemicals remained poisonous long after
they had been applied and they are now
banned. It is thought that in the case of
golden eagles sheep dip was the main
problem. As the golden eagles fed on
the dead bodies of sheep that had been
dipped, the levels of poison gradually
built up in the eagles’ bodies until they
became harmful. The eggs that the
poisoned birds laid had thinner shells
which broke very easily, so they could
not produce any chicks.
Sometimes golden eagles die because
they eat poisoned bait that has been laid
out to kill other predators, such as foxes
Changes in the golden eagle’s habitat
can make it a less suitable place for
them to feed and breed. In some parts of
Scotland there are so many deer and
sheep grazing on the moorland that
there is not enough heather left to feed
other animals. This means fewer grouse
and mountain hares and in turn less live
food for the eagles. Where there are
fewer live prey golden eagles are less
likely to rear their chicks successfully.
However high numbers of deer and
sheep do mean that more carrion is
available and this can lead to a rise in
the number of golden eagles found in an
Golden eagles search for food in open
areas and cannot hunt in dense
woodland. This means that when
forestry plantations are created on open
ground in upland areas they make it an
unsuitable habitat for golden eagles.
More and more people are using the
countryside for recreation. Climbers,
birdwatchers and photographers can
disturb golden eagles and stop them
from breeding successfully.
Finding out more
Valerie Thom (Collins)
The Birds of Scotland
Emilio Dicerbo (Lochar Publishing Ltd)
Roy Dennis and Laurie Campbell (Colin
The Golden Eagle
Jeff Watson (Poyser)
How you can help
You could become involved with groups
of other people concerned with the
future of Scotland’s wildlife. Check your
local library for information about groups
in your area.
The Young Ornithologists Club (YOC),
which is the junior section of the RSPB,
produces a magazine and Scottish
newsletter which include information
about environmental issues and give you
the chance to help wildlife by taking part
in projects and surveys.
Contact: RSPB, Dunedin House, 25
Ravelston Terrace, Edinburgh EH4 3TP
The place in which an animal or plant
A chemical that is used to kill pests.
An area of planted woodland (often used
to describe large areas recently planted,
mainly with conifers).
An animal that kills and eats other
An animal that is killed and eaten by
The area in which an animal or group of
animals lives and which they defend
against other animals of the same kind.
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