Gamekeepers care for rare species in glens

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Gamekeepers in Angus are working with conservationists to discover more about the diverse array of wildlife on their estates.

People visit the Angus Glens for grouse shooting, deer stalking and fishing, with the demand helping support businesses and trades in the glens throughout the year.

But it is the other feathered friends and animals, including golden eagles, homing on the estate moors which have been attracting interest and work with conservation groups lately. A new red kite nest, with two chicks, was discovered on moorland in Glen Esk by a trainee gamekeeper.

Red kites are a reintroduced species and the juveniles are monitored so ornithologists can learn more about behaviour and movements.

The young Glen Esk kites have now been ringed and tagged, as have Britain’s smallest birds of prey, Merlins, which breed in number on the grouse moors in Angus.

Dave Clement, head keeper at The Gannochy Estate and member of the Angus Glens Moorland Group, said: “Our trainee gamekeeper found the nest and we rang the RSPB to have them ringed and tagged.

“What was really interesting was to see socks and underwear from a popular nearby swimming spot actually in the nest and in the surrounding trees. It was like the kites were cleaning up the glen!”

An eaglet nesting on Invermark estate has also recently been ringed by Angus raptor study group officials, with Invermark a regular home to two pairs of golden eagles.

The raptor group were driven to the nest, which required rope access due its craggy site, by head gamekeeper, Garry MacLennan. The chick was being well fed, with six fresh rabbits in the nest, left by mum.

Mr MacLennan said: “We actively manage the estate’s deer forest and grouse moor for sporting interests. By controlling the numbers of certain species, that helps the rarer species. In doing so, we have always had eagles. Looking after the heather helps provide a habitat which benefits lots of the species that are dependent on it. Last year, we actually had three eaglets from the one nest which is very rare, an abundance of white hares probably helped. This is part of what the estate has in terms of wildlife. There are always Merlin and Peregrine nests, too.”