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 They use data from long-term studies, supported with research into historical documents.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.