28 May 2020

Eagle People Profiles - Lewis Pate


by Rick T.

28 May 2020

Today's Eagle People Profile features Lewis Pate, climber for the project and raptor worker in the North West.

How did you start out as an Ecological Consultant and what made you want to follow that career?

"I started out working as a seasonal ranger on Atholl Estates after several years of volunteering for the National Trust for Scotland in Glencoe. "

Prior to that I was running a business that imported fabric to the UK between London and Glasgow. The office life was not really where I wanted to be and I made the change to environmental work in my 30's. I wanted a career that allowed me to work in the Highlands of Scotland and involved wildlife and allowed me to live in an inspiring place and improve my understanding of the natural environment.

What role do you play in the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project?

I have been helping the project with collecting young birds from remote nest sites, prospecting potential collection sites and developing a protocol for safe rope access around eagle nests. I also speak to land owners and promote the project with a view to raising the profile of the work and developing support from land managers.

What made you want to be involved with the project?

I work on the current Sea Eagle Management Scheme with SNH and have been colour ringing and assisting with satellite tagging Golden Eagles for some years. I think that translocation projects can provide an excellent solution to the constraints on species distribution in Scotland. We would not have White-tailed Eagles here or iconic red squirrels in some areas of the country if translocation work had not previously taken place.

Why do you think it is important to help the Golden Eagle population in South of Scotland?

Unfortunately, the slow expansion of the Golden Eagle range into the south would take too long in the absence of translocation work. They should be present there and further south into England and previous work has demonstrated that if we help them they have a good chance of success. I know persecution is a major problem and we need to find a better way of reducing this unacceptable behaviour around other land management practices. Raising the profile of a species by promoting it in a positive way through education seems to be the most effective way to do this and involving local schools is an excellent strategy which I believe will have positive results for the birds.

Do you have a favourite Eagle story or memory?

A favourite eagle memory was rescuing a sea eagle from a nest in Lochaber that had swallowed two large fish hooks with a metal trace attached to them.I managed to cut it free from its nest and transport it by boat and then car to Inverness where it ended up at SSPCA, Fishcross.One of the talented vets there managed to extract the hooks and we released it back into the wild at Loch Arkaig.I always wondered if it managed to survive and where it ended up.My dog was very confused as we took it across the loch with its head sticking out of the bag, pecking the dog who was trying to lick the very unimpressed eagle clean.


Photos: Top - Lewis Pate. Middle - Twin Golden Eagle chicks - Laurie Campbell. Bottom - White tailed Eagle - Stewart Sexton.