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Guidance for Estates on the Golden Eagle Survey 2015

There is a national survey programme for rare and scarce species undertaken each year for JNCC and SNH in Scotland.  This year will see the fourth national survey of golden eagles. It aims to establish how many territories are occupied in 2015 for comparison with previous surveys and to collect information on breeding success across the UK range; almost exclusively Scotland. The previous surveys were in 1982/83, 1992 and 2003.  The 2003 survey although showing an overall stable total showed that there were changes in the population with increases in parts of the West Highlands and Islands and decreases in parts of the southern and eastern parts of the range.
The 2015 survey is funded by SNH and RSPB.  RSPB will be leading the survey, working in partnership with the Scottish Raptor Study Group and others monitoring eagles (e.g. likely to include liaison with surveyors working on wind farm projects etc.). A large proportion of the survey work in most areas will be carried out by experienced volunteers from local raptor groups, with six dedicated field staff employed by RSPB filling in gaps in areas requiring more specialist coverage due to location, terrain or range of alternative nesting areas. These will primarily be north Argyll, Lewis & Harris and parts of the Highlands.
SNH have said that because of the need to allocate volunteers and paid staff flexibly across the range of golden eagles, it is difficult to commit to contacting every landowner ahead of this survey taking place or to routinely provide landowner-specific feedback. However all of the surveyors are encouraged to make contact with landowners and managers ahead of or during survey work whenever it is practical to do so, in the spirit of the SOAC and the Moorland Forum survey guidance. All estates to be surveyed by RSPB should have had a letter.
Scottish Land & Estates have been working with SNH and RSPB for the last two years to establish tighter protocols for liaison with estates over access arrangements, and for automatic feedback to the estate itself on what has been found on their land during a survey.  These are matters of concern for many members and an understanding for the 2014 national Twite survey had been published on the Moorland Forum website.  Unfortunately, RSPB and SNH have said that they cannot adhere to that protocol for this Golden eagle survey, so the whole issue is to be discussed again.  Until new guidelines are published, members are asked to assist surveyors to achieve best possible data in the national interest, and to give feedback to Scottish Land & Estates where it has gone well or about any problems they have had.  Please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  or your Regional Manager
RSPB have said that the final national survey report will not be published until 2016 /2017.  However, summary results will be available on a regional basis within six months and RSPB will make these available to estates on request to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  01767 693 307.  Members are entitled to this information and are encouraged to find out as much as possible from the surveyors when they are on site and to keep up contact with RSPB afterwards to get the data they want.  The more detail given to the surveyors about estate boundaries should result in better estate specific data.  Again, feedback to Scottish Land & Estates will be helpful to resolve any issues at the time and to help in agreeing new national guidelines for future surveys. 

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