Sad end to real high flier

Sea Eagle'Methilhill
Sea Eagle'Methilhill

A massive eagle which became a local feathered celebrity with its sightings across Levenmouth has come to a sad end.

The male white-tailed, or sea, eagle, known officially as Red T, was released into the wild back in 2011 as part of the East Coast Sea Eagle project

However, a “mortality signal” was picked up for the bird in February and it was tracked to the discovery of a carcase buried under several inches of snow below a wind turbine in the Ochils.

While the cause of death seemed obvious, every white-tailed eagle carcase found is sent to the Scotland’s Rural College for a post mortem, including toxicology to test for chemicals such as pesticides or poisons.

However, results have now confirmed that the most likely cause of death was a collision with a turbine - the first white-tailed eagle found to have been killed by a wind turbine in Scotland.

With a wing span of around eight feet, Red T was described by the project as one of the most “interesting” personalities among the released birds.

Despite getting off to a bad start early on, he found his feet and was one of the most frequently spotted white-tailed eagles, with his sightings across Levenmouth, including Methil, Methilhill and Wemyss, causing great excitement for a while before he moved on to Tentsmuir Forest. He then regularly spent time on Carsebreck Loch near Braco and Glen Lednock near Comrie.

For the East Scotland Sea Eagle project, this is one of 27 fatalities that have been recorded since the project began in 2007, although it is reckoned there are more as the majority of illegal kills are thought to go unreported.

Richard Evans, RSPB senior conservation policy officer, explained that collision was just one of many perils for birds living in modern landscapes scattered with man-made hazards, such as communication masts, glass buildings, cables, pylons, vehicles and trains.

But the biggest threats are illegal poisoning, shooting, trapping or nest destruction.

“The single most important change to benefit eagles would be a lasting end to the illegal killing of birds of prey, which still poses the most direct and significant threat to the long-term re-establishment of the species across its former range,” Richard Evans concluded.