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Itchy plays happy families but search for Scratchy goes on…

Itchy nesting Loch Frisa 2005. Credit: Iain Erskine/RSPB

Itchy nesting Loch Frisa 2005. Credit: Iain Erskine/RSPB

No, not a character from The Simpsons but a white-tailed sea eagle made famous on BBC TV’s Springwatch programme in 2005, and he’s been discovered breeding in a secret location in the West of Scotland.

Last year, RSPB Scotland launched a nationwide appeal to find Itchy and Scratchy, the birds featured as chicks in the first ever series of the popular BBC programme. Named by pupils from Dervaig Primary School, the pair was watched by millions as live images of a nest at Loch Frisa on the Isle of Mull were beamed into homes across the UK.

Since fledging in 2005 there has been occasional sightings of the siblings but the conservation charity has often wondered of their exact whereabouts.

Itchy, identified by the ‘I’ on his red wing-tag has now been found breeding with an untagged female.

Gordon Buchanan, a wildlife cameraman and presenter who filmed Itchy in 2005, said: “We’ve been looking for him for a long time so it’s brilliant news he’s been found alive and well and raising a family of his own. Looking at him through the camera lens as a scruffy young eaglet on the nest, you’d never have believed he would have transformed into this majestic eagle with a white tail. I wish him a long and productive life!”

White-tailed eagles, the largest birds of prey in Britain, can take up to 5 years to mature. It is only when they are old enough do they attempt to breed.

Dave Sexton, RSPB Scotland’s Mull Officer, added:  “It was actually a boatman who alerted RSPB Scotland to Itchy’s reappearance after spotting a wing-tagged white-tailed eagle. It’s great to know that he is doing well and is now a dad! He and his mate have successfully fledged one chick and the hope is that they will continue contributing to Scotland’s growing white-tailed eagle population. Meanwhile, the search for Scratchy continues and we’d urge anyone who spots a white-tailed eagle with an ‘S’ on a red wing-tag to give us a call.”

Sightings of Scratchy should be reported to Dave Sexton on: 01680 300 387 or email david.sexton@rspb.org.uk

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