Bird-lovers have been warned to be careful when approaching nests, after concerns were raised about people getting too close to a pair of kestrels near a coastal path in Buchan.
The location of the nest has become well-known and in recent days up to 40 people have been viewing the birds at times.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) yesterday warned that such visits could actually put chicks at risk.
Gavin Clark, SNH Tayside and Grampian operations manager, said: “There’s a risk that too many people trying to get too close may put pressure on the birds and cause chicks to fledge prematurely.
“There is also a danger that the birds will become habituated to people, which is detrimental for the birds in the long term.
“We’re asking that people don’t get close to the nest by approaching the cliff edge or stay too long on the coastal footpath opposite the nest site.
“All wild birds and their nests are legally protected. In the event of any wildlife crime being suspected, people should contact the police on 101.”
Ron Macdonald, a local photographer and former SNH manager, added: “A good photograph can have a powerful impact, connecting nature with people and culture.
“Most photographers are responsible, recognising that the welfare of the kestrels is more important than getting a good photograph.”
Kestrels are one of our best known birds of prey. They produce between four and five eggs, with fledging taking place from early June to early August.
They are relatively short-lived with an average lifespan of four years, and with a high mortality rate in young birds.