Animals

Hidden camera set up at Cairngorms sea eagles nest

A hidden camera is streaming live images of a white-tailed sea eagle nest at a secret location in the Cairngorms.

Sea eagles are the UK’s largest bird of prey and have a wingspan of up to 2.4m (8ft).

Live images of eagles Shona and Finn, who are incubating two eggs, are being fed to RSPB Scotland’s Loch Garten Nature Centre at Abernethy.

The project has been described as the UK first because of the quality of the camera involved.

It forms part of the work being carried out by Cairngorms Connect, a conservation partnership set up to enhance habitats over the next 200 years.

The camera is hidden in trees 3m (10ft) from the nest site. It was installed under license in autumn to avoid disturbing the eagle’s breeding season.

Jess Tomes, of RSPB Scotland, said: “This is an enormously exciting addition to the visitor offer at the Loch Garten Nature Centre.

“The images we’re getting live from the nest are phenomenal and our visitors will get a very rare and extremely privileged peek at the domestic life of a breeding, white-tailed eagle pair.”

She added: “Already we’re noticing little personality traits in them – the male is very attentive to his mate and to tidying the nest – it’s fascinating to watch.”

The eggs could hatch around the second week of April.

The exact location of the nest is not being revealed to the public to avoid the risk of the birds being disturbed.

White-tailed eagles were driven to extinction in Scotland by 1918.

The species was later reintroduced to Scotland, with the first birds being taken from Scandinavia and released on the Isle of Rum in 1975.

Subsequent reintroductions and the birds’ natural dispersal means there are now populations spread as far as Fife, Orkney and the north west Highlands.

The UK’s oldest white-tailed sea eagle, Skye, was identified on the Isle of Mull after being spotted in film shot for BBC Winterwatch earlier this year.

Skye’s mate of 25 years, Frisa, would be older at 30 years old, if ornithologists can confirm she is still alive.

Frisa hatched on Mull in 1992.

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