THE Burncastle Estate near the Lammermuir Hills in the Scottish Borders has become the first estate to build two new artificial golden eagle eyries (nesting sites) to help restore a once thriving population in the south of Scotland.

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As the project’s first translocated birds begin to settle and reach breeding age, the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project believes artificial eyries will play a vital role in helping golden eagles re-establish even more territories in which they once thrived.

Border Telegraph: Golden eagle. Photo: Pixabay

The project’s first two artificial eyries have been carefully placed by expert climbers in difficult to reach locations, high in the trees within the Burncastle Estate.

The team has deliberately selected secluded areas close to where three of the project’s 18-month-old satellite-tagged golden eagles (two females and one male) have been spotted (in Burncastle and Western Lammermuirs).

As eagle eyries need to blend into the natural surroundings, the eyries have been built with natural materials, using techniques that have been tried and tested by expert raptor workers elsewhere in Scotland.

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Speaking about their work with Burncastle Estate, Project Manager, Dr Cat Barlow said: “We’re incredibly grateful to Northumberland Estates for being the first to create these very welcoming, carefully constructed eyries.

Border Telegraph: South of Scotland Golden Eagles Project.

“Golden eagles typically begin to breed at around three to four years of age, so this is a particularly crucial time for the birds we first released in 2018 to have plenty of places to settle.

“Before the Project’s translocations began, we spent 11 years working with project partners and raptor experts to identify a significant number of areas where they could do this. After so many years it is fantastic to witness the eagles now doing just that and exploring long-empty historical ranges.

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“With support from estates such as the Northumberland Estates and raptor experts, along with a team of highly skilled climbers and the Southern Upland Moorland Group, we’re hoping these new artificial platforms will help the birds settle in areas we thought previously lost as nesting areas.”

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The Duke of Northumberland added: “We’ve been thrilled that the work of the Project has led to golden eagles re-establishing a presence in the south of Scotland and it has been exciting to see these magnificent birds occupy a range close to Burncastle.

“The estate was very keen to play a part in helping the birds, and the opportunity to build the eyries on Burncastle will hopefully raise the prospects of new chicks being born in the future.

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“Burncastle and other moorland estates in the Southern Uplands of Scotland manage the habitat which allows a range of species including curlew, black grouse and golden plover to flourish. Helping the golden eagle population as we are doing complements that work.

“Our estate has many land uses such as farming, forestry and management for grouse but we are eager that supporting biodiversity and conservation is at the heart of what we do.”