This is the story of the inspiration behind my watercolour painting of two White-tailed Eagles soaring above Castle Island during winter. Castle Island is situated in Loch Leven, within the small county of Kinross-shire. The castle on the island is famous for being the location where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in 1567.
Eagles in Kinross-shire
When I first moved to Scotland in 2003, it would have been nigh on impossible to imagine sea eagles locally. In fact, the population was relatively small then and primarily on the west coast.
From 2007 through to 2012, White-tailed Eagle chicks were brought over from Norway and released in Fife as part of the East Scotland Sea Eagle Reintroduction.
Two eagles in particular from the release in 2009, known as Turquoise H (female) and Turquoise X (male) because of their corresponding wing tag ID, turned up a Loch Leven for several years in a row. The first hard frost or snow usually signalled the first sighting. I got lucky many times seeing them together, and latterly the female on her own. I spent many hours sitting in freezing conditions hoping for sightings! Thankfully, I wasn’t usually disappointed; if there were no eagles about, there was plenty of other interesting wildlife on the loch.
The particular day that the painting is based on, I watched the pair flying and soaring; often perching on Reed Bower Island and then taking flight. The sun was shining with a beautiful blue sky, perfect conditions for watching eagles in flight.
As the sunlight began to fade, the eagles soared above Castle Island for a few minutes. When banking in flight, their white tails became illuminated in the last of the sun’s rays. Finally, as dusk fell, the pair landed out of sight at the rear of the island, settling down to roost for the night.
I wanted to capture the soaring moment in a painting, the view of them banking in flight with white tails showing.
Winter is one of my favourite seasons. In the painting you can see the slopes of Bishop Hill in the background. I brought out the colours of winter, and the pale hues of a sharp frost upon the ground.
A success story
Having the birds visiting the loch was a great success story. Sadly, they’ve not been back for a few years now. I do know the male (Turquoise X) made a new life west, even though he paired with the female, Turquoise H, for a while.
That pair inspired my Eagle Antics cartoon short story Frozen Nuptials. You can download a free PDF copy here: Eagle Antics: Frozen Nuptials.
The particular eagles mentioned above were born in 2009. A pair from the same year are well-known in Fife, having raised several chicks. They were the first pair in the east to have a chick in over 200 years.
Buy the giclée print
The original painting isn’t for sale as I am keeping it, but I do have a fine art giclée print available in my online shop here: White-tailed Eagles, Loch Leven – fine art giclee print
Print size: 210mm x 148 mm / 8.27″ x 5.83
Size, including mount: 279mm x 229mm / 11″ x 9″
Printed by dStudio using Fine Art Trade Guild approved printers, inks and papers.