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Observations on Golden Eagles in Scotland


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About the Author

Adam Watson was brought up at Turriff in Aberdeenshire. At age seven he became interested in snow and a year later in summer snow-patches in the Cairngorms, the largest expanse of high hill country in Scotland. Then at age nine, his life changed after reading Seton Gordons (SG) classic book The Cairngorm Hills of Scotland. Adam wrote to Seton soon after, he replied, and they corresponded for the rest of Setons life. Adam was obsessively keen on the Cairngorms. At 13, alone, he saw his first pair of ptarmigan and thought they were the most beautiful birds in the world, more than eagles, his first pair of which he saw later that day. Adam has been studying eagles in Deeside since. In the 1950s he met other eagle pioneers Charlie Palmar and Pat Sandeman, and Leslie Brown especially made a big influence on what should and could be studied on eagles. Although Adam worked as a biologist, all his studies of eagles have been in his own time. Stuart Rae grew up in Aberdeen surrounded by coast, farmland, woods, and moors, all within walking or bicycling distance. Exploring the outdoors and all wildlife was captivating, although birds were the most readily watched and so became the focal attraction. Gradually, he ventured into the hills; the pinewoods, long glens, cliff s and high plateau. Those hills, the Cairngorms, became and still are his favourite stomping ground. Much of those early hill days were with his older brother, Robert Skitts and it was he who showed him his first eagle eyrie. There were two full-grown chicks perched on the edge of a huge eyrie in a Scots pine, an indelibly impressive sight to a 14-year-old. Stuarts teenage years were spent rock and ice-climbing and studying birds throughout the Highlands, all the time gathering experience on eagles in different parts of the country. Then in 1982 he landed a dream job studying golden eagles with Jeff Watson, and he has been studying them professionally and privately since.

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