Scottish police search sporting estate following the disappearance of tagged White-tailed eagle

Police vehicles
Police officers carried out a search of the North Glenbuchat Estate
Scottish police officers have searched the North Glenbuchat Estate after  first white-tailed sea eagle to be raised in the east of Scotland in almost 200 years disappeared off the radar.

The male sea eagle,  raised in a nest in Fife in 2013, had been fitted with a satellite tag before it could fly. The police have made searches of Aberdeenshire’s North Glenbuchat Estate where the eagle was last tracked to.

The owners of the North Glenbuchat estate are yet to respond to inquiries. Police officers have spent the day searching property on the estate.

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “We are concerned for the welfare of a white tailed eagle and enquiries are ongoing to locate the bird.

“Around April 10, 2014, we became aware that the bird was missing from the Glenbuchat area of Strathdon as there were no further recordings from its transmitter. “There is concern for the welfare of this very rare bird. “As a result searches have been carried out in the area on both land and within premises.”

In recent years, several satellite tagged golden eagles have also disappeared in the Strathdon area in Aberdeenshire.

In 2011, the body of one of the birds was recovered at Glenbuchat. Tests showed it had been poisoned.

White-tailed sea eagles were first reintroduced on the Isle of Mull in 1974.
Adult Male White-tailed eagle: Courtesy of Terry

RSPB Scotland’s Head of Investigations, Ian Thomson, said: “The disappearance of this White-tailed eagle is very depressing, and particularly so since it joins a list of other satellite-tagged eagles that have vanished on the grouse moors of upper Donside in the last few years. “It is significant that the only carcass found was that of an illegally poisoned golden eagle back in 2011.

“A police follow-up to that incident, on this same estate, found a poison bait, a poisoned buzzard and a shot short-eared owl.

“Four other satellite-tagged golden eagles have disappeared in the same area, without trace or further transmissions from the tag, in the last five years. This area has become a black hole for eagles”.

In 2006, the then head gamekeeper on the North Glenbuchat Estate, Hector McNeil, was fined £850 at Aberdeen Sheriff Court after being convicted of poisoning wild birds and possessing an illegal pesticide.

The eagles last known position was in an area around Strathdon

The latest sea eagle to have disappeared was from the first nest built by white tailed eagles in the east of the Scotland, following a reintroduction programme.

Police Scotland have asked anyone who was in the Glenbuchat area around 10 April and who may have any information to contact them by dialling 101.

Over the past six years, the focus has switched to returning the White-tailed eagle back to Scotland’s east coast.

More than 80 White-tailed sea eagles, obtained under licence from nests in Norway, have been reintroduced at secret locations in Fife.

The reintroduction project is run by RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland.

Much of the project funded by the tax payer has so far cost £452,000, with finance provided by the RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

4 comments to Scottish police search sporting estate following the disappearance of tagged White-tailed eagle

  • Miss Valenzuela

    Having recently visited Glenbuchat, an otherwise crime free area with stunning natural habitat and a thriving and friendly community, the apparent criminal activity alleged in the disappearance and poisoning of rare and protected species leaves one dismayed and horrified. The most recent disapperance of the white tailed sea eagle in the region, specifically in the North Glenbuchat Estate, as well as the loss of golden eagles including the poisoning of one such bird will serve to remain a blight on this region. The lack of evidence, i.e. no prensence of bodies of the birds that vanished serves as an alarm to highlight what appears to be criminal intent. I am pleased to witness today a hefty police presence in the Glen and sincerely hope that the commertial interests of grouse moors in upper Donside are not put above the law and welfare of these protected species or indeed on the welfare of other fauna of the area.

  • Circus maxima

    Alas, the estate is within the extended royal family… it looks like justice is a forlorn hope.

  • paul williams

    Circus Maxima….Absolute Poetry.

  • Paul Thompson

    Circus maxima, so very true I recently spoke to a Natural England representative in Norfolk who knew the man that witnessed and reported a certain privileged brat shoot a harrier. Rather than prosecute individual for a clear breach of law the system ground the man that reported the incident down to such a point he has left the country.

    Editor’s Comment. Not too surprised to hear this news. Several years ago the then Wildlife Crime Officer for Lancashire, was reported I understand to Natural England for visiting a peregrine falcon nest without the appropriate disturbance licence simply to mark the eggs. Natural England contacted the officer advising him that in the future he would need a licence like everyone else. The officer in question retired a few years later on ill health from the police taking up a well paid job with BASC in the North West of England.