14 May 2020

Eagle People Profile Chris Rollie


by Rick T.

14 May 2020

Retired RSPB Area Manager (D&G) and Raptor enthusiast Chris Rollie shares a wonderful tale of a meeting between two of Scotland's top predators. Thank You Chris!

Golden Eagle and Fox

One of my most memorable encounters with golden eagles was on Boxing Day, 1999, when I jumped into the car and drove a few miles into the hills to escape the seasonal festivities familiar to everyone.

I parked beside an empty cottage at the end of a rough track and immediately became aware of something on the rig horizon several hundred yards beyond.At that time there was a significant rabbit warren there where I often saw eagles.A quick look through my binoculars immediately confirmed a perched eagle, as I’d hoped and suspected.

Luckily, I had a wee telescope and was soon getting great views of the big bird as it stared right back at me.As I scoped the eagle atop its rocky knoll, a fox came into view and sniffed its way towards the big bird.Suddenly, only a few yards short, the fox became aware of its situation and froze momentarily, with tail, hackles and ears stiffly erect.The eagle glanced down at the fox unconcernedly, the wind ruffling a feather or two on its head as it did so, before regally fixing its gaze back on me.The fox backed away in retreat and disappeared from view.

Foxes have sometimes been recorded as golden eagle prey, and in recent years trail cameras have captured hungry and spectacular encounters between foxes and eagles at carrion in winter.However, I will never forget how struck I was that day by both the fear of the fox, and by the utter nonchalant disdain displayed by the eagle in its presence.

Photos: Top - Chris Rollie. Middle - Trail camera photo of Golden Eagle, Fox and 2 Ravens - Don O' Driscoll, John Muir Trust. Bottom: Eaglet in Eyrie with Fox cub - Ian MacPherson - NOTE: The rectangle obscuring the fox cubs head is in place for the comfort of all of our blog readers. Thank you to all who provided photographs.