Highlands & Islands

White-tailed sea eagles 'teachers' appointed

Sea eagle. Pic: Iain Erskine/RSPB Scotland
Image caption White-tail sea eagles are the UK's largest bird of prey

RSPB Scotland has made appointments to two new posts it has created to improve knowledge in schools of white-tailed sea eagles.

Judith Bullivant will work with teachers and pupils in Wester Ross and Sarah Stephenson will cover Skye and Lochalsh.

RSPB Scotland said it had received a number of requests from schools about eagle-themed field teaching.

Sea eagles are the UK's largest bird of prey.

The new posts are part of a project call Seeviews. Informing communities about sea eagle re-introduction programmes is among its aims.

Dr Alison MacLennan, RSPB conservation officer for Skye and Lochalsh, said pupils would be offered teaching material in England and Gaelic.

She said: "The RSPB sets great store in introducing young people to the wonders of nature and it doesn't get much more wonderful than our magnificent white-tailed eagles.

"I would welcome any other schools interested in the project to contact me to take advantage of the scheme."

'Minimum impact'

In recent years, crofters in Wester Ross and Skye have complained of sea eagles attacking young lambs.

The results of study commissioned by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and published in May 2010, suggested the birds have a "minimum impact" on lambs' chances of survival.

The fortunes of selected lambs in three flocks in Wester Ross were monitored to help determine whether large numbers of livestock fall prey to the raptors.

SNH said the study of lambs in Gairloch suggested less than 2% of lambs' deaths were directly linked to the birds.

At the time, then Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham said the report was a "timely and valuable piece of research".

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