Loading products ⌛️ ...

Observations of Golden Eagles in Scotland: a historical and ecological review

Newly Released!
Hancock House is saddened by the loss of one of Scotland's greatest conservationists- Dr. Adam Watson, but proud to have helped produced his last published work. We have provided some obituaries highlighting some of his lifetime achievements below.


By: Adam Watson & Stuart Rae
ISBN-13: 978-0-88839-030-1 [trade softcover]
ISBN-13: 978-0-88839-173-5 [trade hardcover]
Binding: Trade Paper / Trade Cloth
Size: 6" X 9"
Pages: 146
Photos: 116
Illustrations: 11
Publication Date: January 2019


The golden eagle is widely considered one of the world’s most magnificent birds. It is the epitome of wild places. The bird has a huge world distribution, and each pair of eagles has a large home range. They shy away from man so those who study them spend most of their time watching for, but not seeing the elusive bird. These difficulties and a love of the eagle’s hill country in Scotland inspired the authors. In Scotland, the golden eagle mostly lives on the hill ground of the Highlands where some of the mainland uses over the past two hundred years have been sheep grazing, deer-stalking and grouse shooting.

Here the authors describe eagle numbers, nesting behaviour and breeding success in two study areas; in north-east and north-west Scotland. They use data from long-term studies, supported with research into historical documents. The result is a deep understanding of how eagles are faring, and how they have been or might be affected by human land use. Adam Watson and Stuart Rae have studied golden eagles for more than seventy and forty years, and have spent thousands of days in eagle country.

Their professional research and personal studies have been on various ecological topics that pertain to the hills, and both have also climbed, skied and generally explored in much of the Highlands, always making observations on aspects of the hills and their wildlife. They are founder members of the North East Scotland Raptor Study Group, and they have studied other raptors besides their main work on golden eagles.

They use an objective approach to golden eagles, as with their other subjects, relying on: field notes, reading the land, and interpreting how they fit in the Highlands.

Author Biography

ADAM WATSON was brought up at Turriff in Aberdeenshire. At age seven he became interested in snow and a year later in summer snow-patches in the Cairngorms, the largest expanse of high hill country in Scotland. Then at age nine, his life changed after reading Seton Gordon’s (SG) classic book ‘The Cairngorm Hills of Scotland’. Adam wrote to Seton soon after, he replied, and they corresponded for the rest of Seton’s life. Adam was obsessively keen on the Cairngorms. At 13, alone, he saw his first pair of ptarmigan and thought they were the most beautiful birds in the world, more than eagles, his first pair of which he saw later that day. Adam has been studying eagles in Deeside since. In the 1950s he met other eagle pioneers Charlie Palmar and Pat Sandeman, and Leslie Brown especially made a big influence on what should and could be studied on eagles. Although Adam worked as a biologist, all his studies of eagles have been in his own time.


STUART RAE grew up in Aberdeen surrounded by coast, farmland, woods, and moors, all within walking or bicycling distance. Exploring the outdoors and all wildlife was captivating, although birds were the most readily watched and so became the focal attraction. Gradually, he ventured into the hills; the pinewoods, long glens, cliff s and high plateau. Those hills, the Cairngorms, became and still are his favourite stomping ground. Much of those early hill days were with his older brother, Robert ‘Skitts’ and it was he who showed him his first eagle eyrie. There were two full-grown chicks perched on the edge of a huge eyrie in a Scots pine, an indelibly impressive sight to a 14-year-old. Stuart’s teenage years were spent rock and ice-climbing and studying birds throughout the Highlands, all the time gathering experience on eagles in different parts of the country. Then in 1982 he landed a dream job studying golden eagles with Jeff Watson, and he has been studying them professionally and privately since.

The Late Dr. Adam Watson

Hancock House is honoured to have helped produce and publish Dr. Watson's last work. We hope this book will help promote a further understanding, respect, and appreciation for not only Golden Eagles themselves, but the ecology and the environment for which they dwell, within Scotland, and elsewhere around the world.




Renowned biologist, ecologist and mountaineer Dr Adam Watson passed away earlier this week at the age of 88. Appropriately and fondly known as ‘Mr. Cairngorms’, he produced an incredible body of work including 23 books, 287 peer-reviewed scientific papers and 178 technical reports- Raptor Persecution UK

Scottish ecologist, conservationist and mountaineer who was a leading authority on the Cairngorms- The Guardian

Dr Adam Watson, ecologist, mountaineer and scientist known for his work in the Cairngorms- The Herald

Dr Adam Watson, an ecologist dubbed "Mr Cairngorms", has died at the age of 88.- BBC


Loading cart ⌛️ ...