Keepers at Invercauld searching for sea eagle (Picture: Steven Rennie Photography)
Keepers at Invercauld searching for sea eagle (Picture: Steven Rennie Photography)

Hunt for missing sea eagle in Aberdeenshire

Gamekeepers and land managers from an Aberdeenshire estate have appealed for help in locating a sea eagle whose satellite tag was last recorded in woodland near the River Dee.

Invercauld Estate, near Braemar, said its ranger and gamekeepers have been working hard to find the sea eagle whose tag last signalled on May 5, 2018.

A mixed-use estate comprised of forestry, farming, stalking, caravanning, fishing and grouse shooting, the tag was said to last be operating within an extensive native woodland and scots pine regeneration zone on Invercauld, approximately one kilometre from the River Dee.

So far, pellets are understood to have been found in the vicinity of the search, suggesting a sea eagle had been roosting there, but neither the bird nor its tag have been located within that woodland or on the rest of the estate.

The estate was informed about the missing bird on May 8 and gamekeepers went out that evening along with other bird watchers to search and conduct dusk observation to see if they could observe the sea eagle coming in to roost.

Efforts have continued to find the bird, with one other sea eagle and two golden eagles spotted flying over Invercauld but as yet, there have been no known sightings of the absent sea eagle.

Angus McNicol, the estate manager at Invercauld, said: ‘We have spent the last two days trying to locate any trace of the missing sea eagle and we will be continuing our efforts to watch the area in case there has been a technical malfunction of the tag and the sea eagle returns to roost again.

Keepers at Invercauld searching for sea eagle (Picture: Steven Rennie Photography)

‘For several months our ranger has been working with the RSPB’s sea eagle project officer to track the movements of the sea eagles in our area and if the tag is no longer transmitting then it is a concern to us. Invercauld hosts a vast range of bird species and other types of wildlife and we want to learn if any harm has come to the bird.’

Invercauld Estate is part of the East Cairngorms Moorland Partnership with the Cairngorms National Park Authority and boasts an array of bird species on the estate including golden eagles, sea eagles, buzzards, merlin, kestrels, golden plover, curlew, lapwings and black grouse.

The estate also works with conservation bodies including the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland on their wildcat breeding programme and liaises with RSPB surveyors when contacted to assist in surveying work. Local schools and university groups regularly attend the estate to observe the abundance of wildlife present and learn about land management.

Mr McNicol added: ‘Sea eagles are a familiar presence over Invercauld and we want to know as quickly as possible what has happened.

‘We realise that such cases where a tag stops transmitting will invariably attract comments about persecution but it is clear that gamekeepers, conservationists, and the Cairngorms National Park Authority all want to see this bird alive and well.

‘We would ask anyone with information that could aid the search to speak to the RSPB or ourselves immediately.’

Scottish Land & Estates has said it supports an appeal for information regarding an absent sea eagle in Aberdeenshire.

David Johnstone, chairman of Scottish Land & Estates, said: ‘We fully endorse Invercauld’s appeal for information regarding the absent sea eagle.

‘The estate has been monitoring where the bird was last known to have visited but as yet there have been no further sightings over the past couple of days. Invercauld is home to a rich array of bird species and wildlife and their effort to search for the sea eagle is to be commended.

‘This bird was part of the RSPB-led East Scotland Sea Eagle Reintroduction Project and the estate has been working with RSPB project officers to support this initiative. It is in everyone’s interests to know whether there has been a problem with the satellite tag or whether the bird has come to harm, but we hope it will be found safe and well.

‘If anyone can assist in locating the bird then we would ask that this information is intimated to the estate or RSPB as soon as possible.’