20 January 2023

Meet Merrick


by Rick T.

20 January 2023

Merrick (F43) is a female golden eagle originating from Rottal estate near Kirriemuir in the Angus Glens.

She was the fifth eagle collected in the summer of 2022, the last to leave the aviaries, after Dora (F22), and was also our heaviest eagle last summer at 5.2 kg!

‘Merrick’ was named by Southern Uplands Partnership (SUP) the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project’s host charity.

Dee Ward, owner of Rottal Estate said: “Lots of estates across Scotland are at the forefront of addressing our biodiversity crisis and are investing heavily to help wildlife and conservation alongside their other business activities – not to mention working with NatureScot and Scottish Government to help deliver their Net Zero objectives. Initiatives such as the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project and Wildlife Estates Scotland are hugely important tools for ensuring that nature thrives and we’re pleased to support them.”

Pip Tabor, Partnership Manager said “The Southern Uplands Partnership is proud to have supported the SSGEP since delivery began in 2017 and was delighted to have been asked to name an eagle this year. The name Merrick was proposed by the SUP Board and seems appropriate as it is the highest peak in southern uplands. It reminds us that Southern Scotland can still support this majestic species."

As you can see from the picture above, Merrick has large amounts of white in both upper and underwings-she is very striking and easy to distinguish from our other project eagles. Many thanks to keepering staff of Rottal estate for their help on collection day and to Dan Spinks of Tayside and Fife Raptor Study Group as the raptor worker monitoring this nest.

The eagles are released early morning by lowering the release hatch using a rope and pulley system operated from behind the aviaries. Typically the eagles will leave the aviary within a few minutes of the door being lowered, but some have taken up to 40 minutes to fly free of their temporary home.

On the morning of release, Merrick flew up onto the release hatch alongside Dora (F22) and looked out for a few minutes but then, very unusually, went back in and ate breakfast (a grey squirrel) before leaving!

Merrick left the release site in December and is now hunting for herself.