Monitoring and conserving Scotland's birds of prey
Tayside Raptor Study Group was formed in 1991 as a result of an increasing number of fieldworkers in the area, many of whom were already members of the North East RSG and Central RSG. There are now over 40 members monitoring a variety of species of raptors within the Tayside and Fife area.
Much of the habitat covered by the group is upland ranging in the west from the wet moors of Rannoch to the drier heaths of Angus in the east. In the north are the montane uplands and deer forests of the Atholl hills and to the south, the grassier upland sheep walk of Breadalbane and the Ochill Hills. To the south-east lie the intensively farmed lowlands of Fife scattered with quarries, copses and extensive woodlands such as Tentsmuir. A notable habitat within the Tayside RSG area is the Tay reed beds, the largest continuous estuarine reed in Britain.
The main species monitored are peregrine, golden eagle, hen harrier, merlin, osprey, red kite, marsh harrier and raven. Species such as short-eared owl, goshawk, kestrel and buzzard are also covered but by fewer observers.
Although all the raptor species listed are of importance both regionally and in some cases nationally, the group is particularly proud of the populations of 60+ pairs of osprey, 50 pairs of red kite and 5 pairs of marsh harrier. For many years artificial nest sites were constructed for ospreys resulting in a secure and expanding population. In 2007 the first release of white-tailed eagles from Norway began and by 2012 the re-introduction of 85 birds was complete. There are great hopes for a future breeding population to become established within the group's area and beyond.
Members cover a specific area where they monitor their particular preferred species. Some will cover a small area perhaps monitoring 2 or 3 territories while others dedicate much of their free time during the breeding season observing a number of species and their territories. One member of TRSG has had a study area of peregrines, eagles and ravens within south Perthshire for 35 years and others have had study areas for 30 years. A number of the group are also members of the Tay Ringing Group, thus, with the appropriate licence, ring nestlings as part of long term studies to show movements and longevity. In recent years members have been involved with the satellite tagging of golden eagles, a national project, whilst others have undertaken long term colour- ringing of ospreys and wing tagging of marsh harriers or important local projects such as radio tracking short-eared owls and PIT tagging of merlin.
The group has twice yearly meetings to which representatives of the police and SNH are also invited to attend.
Chair: Claire Smith
Marsh Harrier chicks