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20 Sept 2022

Mar’verick takes to the skies

A white-tailed eagle chick with black tracking tags round its feet sits on a scrubby grass cliffside.
Mar’verick, the newly fledged white-tailed eagle chick
We are delighted to welcome a special visitor to Mar Lodge Estate, with the arrival of a new white-tailed eagle chick, the first to fledge on our northeast property.

The male white-tailed eagle chick, cheekily named Mar’verick, a twist on the popular Top Gun character, was successfully raised by a pair of white-tailed eagles who took up residence on the estate earlier this year.

Mar’verick, who has now fledged, spread his wings and left the nest, taking to the skies above Mar Lodge and the southern Cairngorms National Park. He will be closely monitored thanks to our work with the RSPB Scotland as part of their East Scotland Sea Eagle Reintroduction Project. Through a re-introduction of white-tailed eagles to the east coast in 2007 to 2012, the project seeks to return this endangered species to their former haunts in the east of Scotland, helping to expand their range and ensure the survival of the UK’s largest bird of prey.

A green Land Rover with National Trust for Scotland painted on it in white is parked on a track overlooking a wide glen. At its centre a river runs through bare grassland, while on either side the slopes of the mountains are thick with trees.
Mar Lodge Estate, Aberdeenshire

Satellite tagging of Mar’verick was conducted under a British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) project license for the RSPB Scotland initiative, that will monitor his movements over the next few years to track the range expansion and the growth of the region’s white-tailed eagle population as it develops.

Shaila Rao, Mar Lodge Estate Conservation Manager, is thrilled to welcome Mar’verick and his parents to the estate: ‘We hope that their arrival will encourage more white-tailed eagles to nest at Mar Lodge in the future. Fate played a hand in the birds nesting at our property when their previous nesting tree on neighbouring Mar estate was toppled by Storm Arwen. Thankfully, suitable trees were available close by on Mar Lodge and we are hopeful Mar’verick’s parents set up camp here for many years to come and can continue to breed this far up Deeside.’

The endangered species first attempted to breed in the area in 2017. However, it wasn’t until 2020 that white-tailed eagles bred successfully for the first time in Deeside. For Mar’verick’s parents, this was their third nesting attempt and the second that thankfully proved successful.

“White-tailed eagles are now an endangered species with only around 10,000 pairs in the world, a third of which live in Norway. In 2013, for the first time in almost 200 years, they bred successfully in east Scotland.”

David Frew, Head of Mar Lodge Estate, commented: ‘We welcomed hen harriers to Mar Lodge in 2016, and the successful breeding of Mar’verick is further testament to the Trust’s conservation work to restore natural habitats for these magnificent birds and we hope that it will continue with more absent species able to call Mar Lodge home once again.’

Monitoring of Mar’verick and other breeding raptors in the area has been carried out in partnership with the RSPB Scotland and The Scottish Raptor Study Group, with 25 volunteers from their North East division monitoring these protected species under license.

Duncan Orr-Ewing, Head of Species and Land Management at RSPB Scotland, said: ‘The reintroduction of sea eagles has been a great success. Increasingly birds are now recolonising the east of Scotland and their former range prior to extinction in these areas in the 1800s. Monitoring is a critical part of any species reintroduction to look at survival and dispersal and satellite tagging is a highly effective modern tool to do that.’

The partnership with RSPB Scotland and the wider East Scotland Sea Eagle Reintroduction Project and The Scottish Raptor Study Group at Mar Lodge Estate is part of the National Trust for Scotland’s vision to deliver Nature, Beauty & Heritage for Everyone.

Read more about reintroducing the white-tailed eagle to Scotland

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