RSPB Conservation Manager Stuart Benn has been out satellite tagging Golden eagles with the One Show.

One Show, Two eagles

I blogged recently about filming Black-throated divers with the One Show in the north of Scotland, well they have been up again this week – this time for Golden eagles.

Eagles have always held a fascination for us and are often used as symbols of national pride – in fact, three of the sixteen countries competing in Euro 2012 had depictions of eagles on their shirt badge (three lions and the French cockerel completing the animal set).  But, there is much to learn about even such apparently well-known birds and some of that is now coming to light with the help of the same GPS technology as we have in SatNavs.

In a joint project with Scottish Natural Heritage, Roy Dennis, Natural Research and the Cairngorms National Park, the RSPB is fitting satellite tags to Golden eagle chicks to learn more about what they do and where they go between the time they leave their place of birth and set up their own territories in maybe four or five years time.  The project also has a crime prevention/detection angle because eagles and other birds of prey are still being illegally killed with sickening regularity in some of our hills, and having tagged birds helps locate these crimes.  Finally, there is raising public awareness – the birds’ movements are plotted on satellite maps like Google Earth and they can be followed on the different organisations’ websites (RSPB’s pages will be ready this autumn).  When the opportunity arises we get on the telly too.  Thus the One Show!

As ever, setting up the filming day takes lots of time – locating suitable nests with chicks of the right age, getting landowner permission, checking everyone’s availability and, finally, hoping the weather is decent!  But everyone couldn’t have been more helpful and last Friday saw the BBC, Davie and Josh from the estate, and Brian and myself from the RSPB, heading into the hills to the nest.

It was a steep pull up from the glen which Josh on his 21st birthday made short work of despite his hefty celebrations the night before - the rest of us to whom 21 is a rapidly receding memory had to take it rather more steadily!  Anyway, we got to where the filming would take place not far from the nest and Mike, Brian and I went to get the twins which were soon safely down in front of the camera.

Brian expertly fitted the satellite tags to both chicks then Mike got to hold one of the eaglets – he looked well pleased!! 

Before long we’d got both the chicks back in the nest and they were totally settled – so, we were a happy band that packed up and wended back down the hill.

Not yet sure when the piece is going to broadcast but I’ll be sure to let you know – should be a good one!            

View more photos on RSPBScotland's Facebook page!