The unseasonable snowfall was enough to make conditions more difficult than they should have been for Kenny and Rhona Duncan, but they faced an unexpected challenge when they reached their lambing field at Cockerstone, Little Glenshee, near Bankfoot, on Tuesday.
By: Ewan Pate
Published in: The Courier
Date: 5 April 2012
They found a sea eagle eating a newborn but badly savaged lamb.
Mrs Duncan said: "I couldn't believe my eyes. I had just read the story in Monday's Courier about the problems the crofters were having with sea eagles taking lambs on Skye and had said to my husband that they had my sympathy."
"When we arrived in the field the sheep were all spooked but particularly the cross Suffolk ewe whose lamb it was. The lamb was obviously newly-born and had been licked by the ewe.
"The eagle was busy eating it on the ground so I charged it on the quad bike to chase it away. It stood about three feet high on the ground but as I got closer it flew off, dropping the lamb.
"Its wing span was enormous and I was so close I could have reached up and hit it with my stick." She added: "The chest area of the lamb had been crushed and one leg ripped off by that time. "Even crows don't make that sort of mess."
Reintroduction move opposed
Mrs Duncan said: "I am very against the way sea eagles have been introduced to the east side of the country without any thought about the consequences. "What if it had attacked a child or a small dog ?"
The couple moved the rest of their sheep indoors for protection.
She added: " I am completely in favour of conserving the bird species that we have but for goodness' sake, why are we bringing back ones that haven't been here for a century or more."
The sea eagle project is run by the RSPB and SNH. They said they would respond once they had been able to examine the exact circumstances of Tuesday's incident.
Ron Macdonald, SNH's head of policy and advice, said: "Our staff would like to find out the all the facts and see what measures can be taken to minimise further losses for Mrs Duncan."