EIGHT golden eagle chicks from the Scottish Highlands have recently been moved to a secret location in the southern uplands of Scotland.

This brings the total number of golden eagles successfully moved to the area by the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project to 12 – almost doubling the local population.

News of the birds’ translocation comes as the charity prepares to celebrate the new arrivals at the UK’s first Golden Eagle Festival in Moffat, funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. The festival takes place between September 19 and 26, 2021, and has been organised to help secure support for continued conservation efforts – and celebrate Moffat becoming Scotland’s first 'Eagle Town'.

Project manager Cat Barlow said: “Covid-19 affected so many of our plans last year, so it is absolutely amazing now to see these eight youngsters settling into the south and soaring majestically above the Moffat Hills. We are truly thrilled to host our first Eagle Festival to celebrate the new arrivals and thank all our supporters for the vital contributions they make to helping us increase the golden eagle population in the south of Scotland.

“Our success is very much thanks to the incredible support we’ve had from our partners, raptor experts, vets, funders, community groups, high profile ambassadors and estate owners and managers.”

WildLand Limited donated one of the project’s newest arrivals from their landholding within the Cairngorms Connect partnership area. Director of conservation and forestry at WildLand Ltd, Thomas MacDonell, said: “As part of Cairngorms Connect, we are firmly committed to enhancing habitats, species and ecological processes. Indeed, golden eagle numbers are steadily increasing at WildLand Cairngorms under our careful land management.

"We were absolutely delighted that we could donate one of our golden eagle chicks to help the important work of the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project in reinforcing the population in the south of Scotland.

“The project took great care in selecting the chick for translocation and making sure she was fit for her journey south. We, along with many others, will follow her onward journey with great interest. We hope she settles quickly into her new home.”

NatureScot’s chief executive, Francesca Osowska, added: “The key aim of this exciting project is to increase the number of breeding pairs in the south of Scotland, a vital part of our work to reverse biodiversity loss and combat the climate emergency. With wildlife declining across the globe, it is fantastic to hear that the project has translocated so many eagle chicks this year.

"Golden eagles are an exciting part of Scotland’s wildlife, and we’re passionate about returning them to places where they used to thrive. This is brilliant partnership working, and a great support for the local green economy. Already, we are seeing great success.”