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East Scotland Sea Eagles (ESSE)

Young white-tailed eagle being released in east Scotland

A young white-tailed eagle takes to the skies in Fife.

Image: Dean Bricknell

The last British white-tailed eagle was shot in 1918. Two formal reintroductions, releasing a total of 140 birds, were carried out on Rum (1975 to 1985) and Wester Ross (1993-1998). These birds have gone on to establish a population of over 50 breeding pairs on the west coast of Scotland.

White-tailed eagles last bred in East Scotland approximately 200 years ago. This third phase of the reintroduction will establish a breeding population in East Scotland.

Project objectives

  • We are aiming to establish a self-sustaining population of white-tailed eagles in East and Central Scotland. Returning the species to the lowland wetlands, loch and Firths as well as coastlines of the region
  • To work towards establishing a Scotland-wide population
  • To give the people of Tayside, Fife and lowland Scotland the opportunity to see these magnificent birds of prey restored to their former haunts.

Key dates so far

  • June 2007: reintroduction project begins, with 15 eaglets collected from nests in Norway and flown into RAF Kinloss
  • August 2007: the first 15 juvenile white-tailed eagles are released.
  • January 2009: eagles were incorporated into the Bird Friendly Schools programme in Tayside and Fife. Each year 70 schools receive an eagle visit from a field teacher or volunteer
  • February 2010: launch of education project in Perth & Kinross using 'Glow', a national, online resource bank for school pupils and teachers. The 'sea eagles: a new beginning' microsite is based upon the 'Storyline' approach.
  • July 2011: Heritage Lottery Fund and LEADER fund the final year (2012-2013) of reintroductions as part of the SEEVIEWS (Sea Eagle Education Viewing Interpretation and Engagement within Scotland) project.
  • April 2012: A SEEVIEWS Community Information Officer and Project Assistant are recruited to ensure that the final year of the reintroduction is a success.
  • June 2012: the last six eaglets are collected from nests in Norway and flown into Edinburgh Airport.
  • August 2012: the last six juvenile white-tailed eagles are released.

Work planned or underway

2012 is the final year of the re-introduction, bringing the total number of birds released to 86. We will continue monitoring of the released birds through radio-tracking and public sightings. 


All of the white-tailed eagles released are fitted with radio (VHF) tags allowing us to monitor their movements and survival as the project progresses.


White-tailed eagle sighting form

White-tailed eagle sighting form

1.12Mb, PDF

Seen a white-tailed eagle? Please let us know.

Date: 3 July 2012


White-tailed Eagle project Newsletter 2012

White-tailed Eagle project Newsletter 2012

686Kb, PDF

Date: 18 September 2012


Who to contact



ESSE is a partnership project between RSPB Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland, the latter host the release site.


This project is supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, and part financed by the Scottish Government and the European community Leader in Fife and Rural Tayside 2007-2013. Ardmore Whisky and Scottish Power also support the project.