The programme for the UK’s first ever Golden Eagle Festival has been launched by a pioneering conservation charity initiative.
And one of the country’s leading wildlife film makers, Gordon Buchanan, will deliver the festival’s keynote speech.
The festival, led by the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project and funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, will take place between 19 and 26 of September 2021 to celebrate the vibrant town of Moffat becoming Scotland’s first Eagle Town. The title was awarded to the town for the role the community has played in helping the groundbreaking conservation project to address low numbers of golden eagles in the south of Scotland.
Gordon will deliver the festival’s first virtual keynote speech about golden eagles and other Scottish wildlife on Friday 24 September.
He said: ‘I’m delighted to be part of the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project’s first ever Golden Eagle Festival and to support their important conservation work to ensure golden eagles once again flourish in southern skies.
‘The thrill of seeing a golden eagle soaring over a Scottish hillside is an unbeatable experience. Each glimpse of this magical bird is special, but they should and could be more common in the south of Scotland.’
Encouraging people to take part in the country’s first Eagle Festival, BBC Springwatch, Autumnwatch and Winterwatch presenter Iolo Williams added: ‘The South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project is a fantastic project looking to boost the small golden eagle population in the south of the country. They’re holding a golden eagle week to celebrate the town of Moffat becoming Scotland’s first eagle town. Please go there and celebrate this brilliant project.’
The full Moffat Eagle Festival programme will be revealed later in the year and will include events and activities delivered by a range of leading wildlife groups including RSPB Scotland, NatureScot, Scottish Forestry, Scottish Land & Estates, Scottish Wildlife Trust, Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels, Wild Eskdale, and the Scottish Raptor Study Group. There will even be a workshop delivered by a leading wildlife photographer.
Welcoming their town’s role in supporting the project and hosting the festival, Leys Geddes chair of Visit Moffat said: ‘Less than a mile from the motorway, we are ideally situated to become Scotland’s First Eagle Town, to host the first Eagle Festival, and to celebrate the golden eagle – one of Scotland’s most iconic species.
‘The Moffat Hills are often described as mini-highlands, owing to our 300 square kilometres of hills, outstanding scenery and rich wildlife, so the perfect area for golden eagles to thrive. It would be wonderful to ensure they become a regular sighting for visitors to the area.’
Support from local communities, funders, volunteers, land managers, raptor specialists and other participants plays a pivotal role in helping the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project to ensure the iconic species continue to grow in numbers and thrive in the area. Over 10,000 people have participated in the initiative to date.
The project’s community engagement officer Rick Taylor added: ‘The support we have already received for protecting golden eagles in the south of Scotland has been truly incredible. It plays an absolutely vital role in protecting this iconic species.
‘We’re delighted now to be launching Scotland’s first Eagle Festival, so we can keep building on this support and ensure that we can see even more of this magnificent species across the south of Scotland’s skies for many generations to come.’
South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project partners include NatureScot, RSPB Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates, Scottish Forestry, and the Southern Uplands Partnership. Funding comes from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, project partners, Scottish Power Renewables, the Scottish Government and local LEADER Programmes. The initiative is a key project under the Scottish Government’s 2020 Challenge for Scottish Biodiversity (which has a route map to protect and restore Scotland’s biodiversity).
For the latest project news, or to donate to the charity initiative, visit: www.goldeneaglessouthofscotland.co.uk