Number of golden eagles in southern Scotland soars to highest in 300 years

The number of golden eagles in southern Scotland has risen to its highest in three hundred years, it has been revealed.

The birds are extremely rare in the UK and experts have been helping the population grow.

As part of the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project eight chicks were successfully moved from other parts of the country to a secret location in southern Scotland to boost numbers.

It means the total number of golden eagles in southern Scotland is around 46 birds – the highest number recorded there for 300 years.

Before the project began there were thought to be between two and four pairs of golden eagles across Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders.

Two birds – named Edward and Iona – moved to the area three years apart, have now paired up in a confidential location close to the town of Moffat.

The area is hosting the UK’s only Eagle Festival between 22 and 24 September.

Naturalist and BBC Springwatch presenter, Iolo Williams, said: ‘It is absolutely fantastic to hear that the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project has once again successfully transported so many golden eagles to the area, and incredibly exciting that Iona, who I was given the honour of naming back in 2021, has settled with Edward near Moffat.

‘The work of this outstanding project is playing a vital role in boosting the small golden eagle population in the south of the country.

‘It is brilliant to think that there is an even greater chance of seeing this iconic predator, which is so important to maintaining a healthy ecosystem, soaring in southern skies.

‘I can’t wait to attend the Moffat Eagle Festival in September, and hopefully quietly spot some of the golden eagles when I’m there.’

Cat Barlow, Project Manager for the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project, added: ‘This is an incredible year for the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project.

‘We are thrilled to bring eight more chicks to the region – the greatest number we have transported in any one summer so far, bringing the population of golden eagles in the area to an all-new record high.

‘And we’re incredibly excited to see some of the first birds that we translocated in the area now nesting together.

‘This is a significant new step in our work to ensure the south of Scotland golden eagle population is self-sustaining and continues to thrive in southern skies for many generations to come.’

Read more stories on Scottish Field’s wildlife and conservation pages.

Plus, don’t miss wildlife columnist Andy Dobson’s article in the September issue of Scottish Field magazine.