Project Blog

19 December 2022

Meet Thistle


by Philip M.

19 December 2022

H03, 'Thistle', a male golden eagle, was the first chick to be collected in the 2022 season. Thistle came from RSPB Abernethy reserve in the Scottish Highlands.

Typically the eagle chicks remain on the nest platform in the aviary for around three weeks before they start to venture on to the perches attached to the nest. Thistle, however, was very adventurous and began to edge out onto the perch within a week of arriving.

Thistle shared his aviary with G526, ‘Ragnar’ another male eagle chick from Pitmain & Glenbanchor estate near Newtonmore in the highlands.

Thistle and Ragnar were the oldest of the chicks collected this summer and the first to be released. Thistle was second out of the aviary following his braver adopted twin. Thistle was the second eagle to leave the release site in mid-October, he has been exploring the Moffat hills for a couple of months now and is hunting for himself. Thistle has been interacting with other young and subadult eagles in the area.

Fraser McCormack Warden at RSPB Abernethy: "To be able to contribute a young eagle to this fantastic and well run project is a real privilege. It’s great to get updates and to read about the young eagles movements, recolonising the south of Scotland and making the ecosystem more complete. We have been a partner to the South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project since the outset and are committed to its success. To be able therefore to contribute an eaglet to this project from our own land at the Abernethy NNR is superb and we look forward to this bird settling and eventually breeding in its new home."

Many thanks to Fraser McCormack – of RSPB Abernethy and the Highland Raptor Study Group for assistance in collecting Thistle.

Thistle (H03) was adopted and named by Scouts Scotland after a national competition amongst its Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorers to find a name. The winning name, Thistle was suggested by 162nd Braid Cubs from Edinburgh; other suggested names entered into the competition included King Dinosaur, Waffles, Seagull the Eagle and Haggis!

Eagle Champions is open to any Cubs group in the South of Scotland. If you would like more information, please get in touch.

Chris Kennedy, Leader of Innerleithen Scout Group (who achieved their Eagle champion badge – in 2019):

“We are really excited to be part of this incredible project to help protect Scotland’s Golden Eagles. This is a fantastic opportunity for our Scouts to take a hands on approach, working together with other people across our community as well as some of the country’s leading wildlife and raptor experts on such a hugely important issue.”

We continue to monitor the progress of Thistle and all of the young eagles released into the south of Scotland and we are rewarded with sightings such as the one below showing Thistle practicing his hunting skills on a passing wood pigeons just 6 weeks after release.