Conservation helps bird numbers soar

A young red kite in the Angus Glens is ringed so that gamekeepers can identify it and track its movements. Red kites are one of a numbe of species spotted on local grouse moors.

A young red kite in the Angus Glens is ringed so that gamekeepers can identify it and track its movements. Red kites are one of a numbe of species spotted on local grouse moors.

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Conservation efforts by Angus gamekeepers are resopnsible for a “thriving” increase in the number of birds of prey on the area’s grouse moors, according to a new survey.

More than 10 different raptor species including golden eagles, red kites and hen harriers have been identified on prominent grouse moors this year, which are among more than 80 bird species that have been recorded on estates in the glens.

Several estates across the Angus Glens Moorland Group have highlighted encouraging evidence with gamekeepers on Invermark Estate sighting nine raptor species including buzzards and golden eagles, some of which are nesting and successfully breeding on the estate.

A number of other estates also reported healthy numbers across Royal Deeside, Speyside and Perthshire.

Garry MacLennan, Invermark Estate’s head gamekeeper, said: “We have monitored a growing number of buzzards, kestrels, golden eagles and white-tailed eagles. Keepers and estate managers do recognise there are some areas of the country where there are fewer raptor species but there is plenty of hard evidence to show that raptors are successfully nesting on grouse moors.”

The findings from Invermark are part of annual surveys undertaken using Scottish Natural Heritage guidelines and conducted by Taylor Wildlife, an ecological consultancy which specialises in upland environments.

Richard Cook, manager of Invermark, said the survey is a valuable way to monitor the estate’s biodiversity and which species benefit more from habitat management.

He continued: “Throughout the year we carry out rotational muirburn and control predation under the general licence, including foxes, stoats and other mustelids in particular. This is to the benefit of many ground nesting birds and is reflected in the rich birdlife recorded by the annual audit.”

Figures revealed in Wildlife Estates Scotland’s latest annual report show that 11 accredited estates reported the presence of golden eagles, with seven of these reporting 19 pairs. Eleven estates also recorded sightings of hen harriers with four reporting 18 breeding pairs.