Golden eagles 'thrive in southern skies'

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BeakyImage source, South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project
Image caption,
Beaky has been tracked as far south as the Pennine Hills

A project to boost golden eagle numbers in southern Scotland has seen them spread their wings across the border.

It is the first time the birds have been tracked into the Pennine Hills since being brought to the Moffat Hills from the Highlands in 2018.

The South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project (SSGEP) said it was a "significant milestone" for the scheme.

Four chicks have now been successfully relocated to the area, with plans to bring more in 2021.

Image source, Phil Wilkinson
Image caption,
More golden eagle chicks will be brought to the area next year

The project suffered a setback last year when one bird apparently attacked and killed another.

However, SSGEP said the remaining eagles had now been tracked from Eyemouth in the east to the Mull of Galloway in the west as well as making a foray about 90 miles south to the Pennine Hills.

"We were particularly excited by Beaky's exploration into northern England, as she is the first of our birds to explore that far south," said project manager Cat Barlow.

"There have been no golden eagles breeding in the wild in England for a number of years now."

She said the project hoped to increase numbers in the south of Scotland in the years to come.

Image source, PHIL WILKINSON
Image caption,
The birds - brought in from the Highlands - are said to be settling in well

"It is thrilling to see these four stunning golden eagles thrive in southern skies - in Scotland and England," said NatureScot's chief executive Francesca Osowska.

"These striking birds are helping enrich the wonderful nature in the south of the country, which is part of vital work to restore biodiversity loss in Scotland.

"Golden eagles are such an amazing part of Scotland's wildlife, and we're passionate about returning them to places where they used to be plentiful."

Julia Stoddart, of the JAHAMA Highland Estates where Beaky was reared before being moved to southern Scotland, said it was "hugely rewarding" to hear the bird was "settling so well".

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