Raptors tagged in Cairngorms

FIFTEEN raptors in the Cairngorms National Park have been satellite tagged and their movements tracked.

The birds which include peregrine, hen harrier, hobby, merlin and eagle were tagged between 2010 and 2011.

The latest, in June 2011, were three golden eagles, two peregrines and a hen harrier. They’ve now fledged from their nest sites and their movements can be followed at www.raptortrack.org

The satellite tagging has provided valuable information on the movements of these birds both in the National Park and further afield. It has been useful to see how they use the Park and revealed some surprises.

CNPA Ecology Adviser, Karen Couper, said: “We expected some of the peregrines to go to the coast or further south in the winter where it’s warmer but tracking showed they actually stayed in the National Park. The project also highlighted some of the amazing migrations that these raptors take with the hobby we tagged in June 2010 migrating to Ghana, West Africa.

The survey has so far also highlighted the high mortality rate of these birds with two golden eagles, two hen harriers and one peregrine disappearing in 2010, and single peregrine, hen harrier and hobby in 2011. The exact cause of the deaths of our tagged birds is not known – some will be natural causes but it looks very likely that some have been killed illegally both in and outside the National Park which is simply unacceptable.”