Long-term study on the ecology and ranging behaviour of golden eagle at Beinn an Tuirc, Scotland

In 1997, NRP began a programme of work to study the ecology and movements of golden eagles occupying a territory at Beinn an Tuirc on the Kintyre peninsula on the west coast of Scotland. This work was prompted by a proposal to build a windfarm in the area, and concerns about possible negative effects on the golden eagles within this territory. NRP’s work involved collecting data on eagle ranging behaviour, habitat use, feeding ecology and breeding performance and using this to advise the developer throughout the windfarm design, development and planning process.

The Beinn an Tuirc Windfarm, consisting of 45 turbines, was constructed by ScottishPower Renewables in 2001 and NRP helped to ensure that the turbine array was sympathetically sited away from the core home range of the golden eagle pair. In addition, to offset possible losses in foraging habitat, we helped to devise a positive habitat management programme, which included felling an area of plantation woodland and managing the newly created habitat here and elsewhere to improve eagle prey densities.

NRP have undertaken the ornithological assessments for a further two extensions to the Beinn an Tuirc Windfarm, and our continued advisory input has ensured that the requirements of golden eagles and other species like hen harriers and black grouse were incorporated in the design process.

NRP continue to work on the Beinn an Tuirc eagles today and act as eagle advisors to the Central Kintyre Habitat Management Group which was established to oversee the delivery of the windfarm’s Habitat Management Plan. The period of intensive monitoring between 1997 and 2016 has meant that this is one of the best studied golden eagle territories in the world. Much has been learned about golden eagle/windfarm interactions and more generally about the ecology of the species in modified and dynamic landscapes.

The golden eagles at Beinn an Tuirc have been one of the more productive pairs in this part of Scotland and work in partnership with Natural Research and ScottishPower Renewables has allowed several chicks to be satellite tagged, providing valuable data on the ranging behaviour of young golden eagles.

A link to our paper on the ranging behaviour of a pair of golden eagles before and after construction of the Beinn an Tuirc Windfarm can be found below;

Walker, D., McGrady, M.,McCluskie, A., Madders, M. & McLeod, D.R.A. 2005. Resident Golden Eagle ranging behaviour before and after construction of a windfarm in Argyll. Scottish Birds 25: 24-40

Article prompted by the 2016 press release:

http://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/wind-turbines-have-no-effect-on-eagles-study-finds-1-4226776

Principal Investigators: I. Mackenzie and D. Walker
Client: ScottishPower Renewables
For more information please contact: info@natural-research.org

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Golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos chick being fitted with a satellite transmitter at Beinn an Tuirc in 2012. The map below shows the satellite locations of this young eagle recorded in 2014.Photo: D. Walker

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Data: Natural Research Ltd.

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