Sona the eagle turns up safe and well - in Dumfries and Galloway
A young white-tailed eagle, which hit the headlines last year when her dramatic nest eviction was caught on camera, has caused a new flap after turning up fit and well in Dumfries and Galloway.
The bird, nicknamed Sona, had to be returned to her nest by Forestry Commission Scotland climbers last June after being attacked by an intruding eagle and falling 30 feet to the ground. The behaviour, which had never been recorded before, was a surprise to the experts.
But Sona has provided a further surprise this January after being repeatedly sighted in the south west corner of Scotland, where white-tailed eagles haven’t bred for over 150 years.
Dave Sexton, RSPB Scotland Mull officer, said: “We know this bird well after all the drama last summer, and I’m extremely relieved to hear that she’s alive and apparently healthy. We got her back into her nest uninjured after her dangerous fall, and she fledged a few weeks later. But that’s often the last we’ll see of these young eagles, as they wander quite widely in their first few years.
People have been very excited. White-tailed eagles are such distinctive birds and it’s an absolute pleasure to see oneSona before she was evicted from her nest
“It’s unusual to have so many sightings of a juvenile like this in Dumfries and Galloway, even though it’s perfect eagle habitat. She’s gone from the Isle of Mull to the Mull of Galloway probably via the Mull of Kintyre so she clearly likes to mull things over!”
Sona, which means lucky in Gaelic, was one of the stars of the BBC’s Springwatch in 2014. She was just eight-weeks old when she was forced from her nest on FCS land on Mull.
A member of the public, who had been watching the nest webcam, alerted the Mull Eagle Watch team to the truth behind her tumble, allowing the dramatic footage to come to light. It was also members of the public who spotted the bird in Dumfries and Galloway, and their photographs and film sent to the RSPB allowed her to be identified.
Chris Rollie, RSPB Scotland area manager for Dumfries and Galloway, said: “We’d heard reports of white-tailed eagle sightings from several Wigtownshire locations in the last few weeks, and thanks to her leg rings and local birdwatcher Brian Henderson’s photography, we were able to positively identify her as the lucky Mull bird.
“As you can imagine, people have been very excited. White-tailed eagles are such distinctive birds and it’s an absolute pleasure to see one. They haven’t bred in Dumfries and Galloway since 1856 and Sona will probably move on to another area before long. But it gives you a real glimpse of what the future could be, and the hope there is now just 40 years after their re-introduction, that these magnificent birds could once again be seen in our skies right across Scotland.”
White-tailed eagles were re-introduced first to Rum in 1975, and quickly spread to nearby islands. An east-coast re-introduction project began in 2007, with the first chick successfully fledged in 2013.
Sona’s mother, Sula, was a Norwegian bird released in the first year of the east-coast project, showing that the two populations are now starting to come together to breed.
Sula, and her mate Cuin, will once again be the stars of the Mull Eagle Watch webcam (provided by Carnyx Wild) this year, and you can also visit them in person through organised trips starting in April. See the original footage of the nest invasion at www.carnyx.tv