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.