29 February 2024

Meet Spirit


by Rick T.

29 February 2024

Young male Spirit (G26) was collected from a crag nest on the Isle of Mull on the 30th June, making him the last eagle to be collected during the summer 2023 translocations. He was also the smallest eagle of the year, weighing in at 3.75kg at his release.

Spirit was named and adopted by the 6 primary ‘Eagle schools’ in the Hawick cluster; Burnfoot, Denholm, Drumlanrig, Stirches, Trinity and Wilton and has become known as ‘Hawick’s Eagle’ in the wider community.

Sari Wilson, the p6 student who named Spirit said:

“Our class at Wilton came up with a few names for our eagle, but I suggested the name ‘Spirit’ because and eagle should be free and having fun soaring through the skies. It should be a free spirit”.

Spirit was collected from the Benmore Estate on the Isle of Mull. The collection team comprised of SSGEP staff, climber Lewis Pate, Stephen Benthall and vet Anna Meredith.

Indi Radford of the Benmore Estate said:

“To see ‘Spirit’ flourishing is great to see and we are delighted to be a part of this conservation work to protect the Golden Eagle population.”

Stephen Murphy, Kevin Kelly and Jonathan Keefe, the raptor workers who monitor this site said:

‘It is a pleasure to help the SSGEP, The Argyll Raptor Study Group and the estate owners to monitor the golden eagles on Mull. It is great to be able to follow Spirit beyond where we last saw him at his eyrie with his brother and heartening to know that so many people are looking out for him’.

Spirit shared an aviary with female eagle Eva. Typically, we try to avoid housing male and female chicks together to avoid sibling aversion, where the translocated youngsters see each other as siblings and then avoid breeding with each other after release. However, another important consideration is age as younger birds can be bullied by older eagles. Spirit and Eva were of very similar ages and settled in perfectly together with no signs of aggression or dominance.

Spirit has become a well know eagle in the town of Hawick. The South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project teamed up with local environmental charity Hornshole Greenway to deliver joint school sessions and community outreach work including a display of the student’s artwork and info point at the local Morrisons supermarket. Moffy, the Moffat Golden Eagle even stopped by to visit!

Judith Murphy, of Hornshole Greenway said:

'The Hornshole Greenway Project through their Eco Education Programme has been working with Rick over the last year and the staff and pupils are delighted that the Hawick Primary School Cluster Group have adopted “Spirit” a young male Golden Eagle. This project has really captured the imagination of pupils. Very successful drawing workshops were held for Burnfoot Primary 7 and for the Eco school committees from Drumlanrig, Stirches, Wilton and Trinity in preparation for the display in Morrisons. Thanks to Rick and all the team at SSGEP.'

Thank you to everyone who contributed to this blog.