Sunday, 2 June 2013

Golden Eagle hatching
A Golden eagle eyrie set on a cliff
While out on a moor watching Greenshanks, in the northern Highlands, I noticed a pair of Golden Eagles rise from a cliff about a mile away. I knew that to be a historical eyrie site and wondered why a pair should be soaring over it? If they had eggs or small young one of them should have been on the nest. So I went over to check.

I soon found an actively-used eyrie and I quickly climbed up to look into the nest from the cliff top. There was a day-old chick and an unhatched egg in the eyrie. This seems negligent of the adults, but I am sure they were watching from up high, so I left the area completely as quickly as I could. I have seen this behaviour before. Perhaps the chicks are not as vulnerable as we would think, and the weather was warm and sunny that day after several days of cold, rain and snow. Maybe the adult female simply needed to get off the nest after seven weeks incubating and the male is less inclined to brood young than to cover eggs while she is off.

The soft down of an eaglet can just be seen above the fine warm nest lining of dried grass. An unhatched egg lies behind.

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