Where Eagles Fly The Highlands Of Scotland 26 December 2021

Golden Eagle May 2015 3

A Golden Eagle in the wilds of The Highlands of Scotland.

We have just returned from eighteen days in The Highlands of Scotland where we were part of The Wildlife Team at the Grant Arms Hotel on Speyside. Our role at the hotel is to help the guests enjoy the wildlife in this beautiful part of the world. We led field trips to various habitats to show guests the amazing birds and wildlife that occurs close to the hotel, updated the daily sightings board so folks could see what was in the area and gave illustrated talks in the evenings and were generally on hand to give advice and answer questions. It is a wonderful idea and we are amazed that other hotels in other parts of the UK have not followed the wildlife hotel model.

Findhorn Valley winter sun 1 Leica

A perfect landscape to enjoy spectacular birds, if a little chilly!

On Boxing Day, the 26th December, we headed out to a beautiful valley to check out the road conditions ahead of leading a field trip there the following day. It had snowed in the area and the night had seen temperatures well below freezing and we were worried the mountain road would not be safe for guests to drive on. Luckily we have a wonderful 4x4 that can tackle most conditions the UK weather can throw at it but most guests did not have such a machine. We were certainly right to check out the road less than half way to the spot where we planned to meet folk’s sheets of ice covered the road. We stopped at a vantage point and scanned and almost at once spotted an eagle! A huge White-tailed Eagle soared over the valley and then moved further up between the hills and was lost to view, a real wow moment. This was soon followed by super views of a Red Kite that flapped slowly over in the morning sun.

We were thrilled with the views of at least three Golden Eagles!

The river in the valley was mostly frozen solid and the whole area was white with several inches of snow, so beautiful, but no good for a field trip for the hotel guests sadly. We slowly drove further up the valley again finding ice across the road in places and finally reached the parking area where we had hoped to meet people – it was a sheet of thick ice! With the 4x4 we were able to park on the grass away from the ice and got out carefully to scan the area. Again almost at once we spotted an eagle, this time a good distance away and we quickly got the raptor in the telescopes it wasn’t giving much away at first as it glided across a distant ridge, then, at last it turned revealing more of its shape – a Golden Eagle! Wonderful two species of eagle within half an hour of each other. This huge bird soon slipped behind a ridge and was lost to sight but a Peregrine Falcon entertained us and we watched red deer on the hills above the valley floor. Then another Golden Eagle appeared above the ridge behind us much closer this time and we could see the white wing and tail patterns of a juvenile bird a fantastic view. But things rapidly got better; not one, not two, but three Golden Eagles came along the ridge all in view at once! This was just mind-blowing three Golden Eagles together in the sunshine and close. The huge birds of prey slowly drifted along the hillside allowing us plenty of time to soak up this so unusual sight. Through the telescopes we could even see the hook at the end of the huge beaks of these most impressive birds. Two juvenile birds and a sub-adult bird and we could see from their bulging crops they had enjoyed plenty of food recently. The eagles doubled back along the ridge as if to say would you like to see more and then dipped behind only to reappear again this was just fantastic birding. The raptors then slowly drifted away along a ridge sparring with each other so often all three in one binocular view and at one point they flushed two Red Grouse from the heather below them! What a thrilling encounter but there still more, we had hardly got our breath back when a White-tailed Eagle drifted over the valley passing almost directly above us albeit pretty high, again this massive bird put on a show and stayed in view for some ten minutes at times flying against the hillside where we could see the white tail of an adult bird another wow moment.

Awesome is a perfect word to describe White-tailed Eagles come and join us to enjoy them.

We also enjoyed super views of a Dipper on the ice at the edge of the river always a delight to watch. Common Crossbills were in the pines and to add to the raptors Common Buzzard and Kestrel what a wonderful day. Check back soon for lots more Scottish adventures!

Find out more about the wonderful Grant Arms Hotel on Speyside here...


We would love to put together a custom Birdwatching Trips tour perfect for you please just drop us a line and we can do the rest…


We look forward to enjoying great birds and wildlife with you soon.

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