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Rare bird spotted in North Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 13:19 06 April 2011

A white-tailed sea eagle.

A white-tailed sea eagle.

A rare bird which has been extinct in England for more than 200 years has been spotted soaring across the skies of North Norfolk.

The white-tailed sea eagle has been seen by members of various bird watching groups making its way around the coast.

It was first spotted flying east over Little Cawthorpe, Lincolnshire early Sunday afternoon, and was then seen in various other places, firstly at Titchwell at around 2.45pm, then Brancaster, West Runton, Overstrand, Trimingham, East Ruston, Stalham, Martham, Winterton, Ormesby St Margaret and finally at around dusk, in Filby.

Over the course of Monday and Tuesday the bird was also spotted at Kelling, Warham and Wells and between Edgefield and Corpusty.

Members of the East Norfolk Ringing Group and Winterton Bird Spotting Collective reported spotting the eagle along the coast on Sunday moving towards Winterton then Caister, before turning south towards Great Yarmouth.

In 1700, there were more than 200 pairs of white-tailed eagles spread across the UK, but they were driven to extinction in the country over the years. In 1975 they were re-introduced into Scotland.

Last year it was revealed a controversial project to reintroduce the white-tailed eagle bird on the Suffolk coast had been scrapped.

Natural England and the RSPB had spent several months looking into the possibility of re-introducing white tailed eagles to the region but the project was abandoned because of cuts in government funding.

The proposals which had also been previously mooted in north Norfolk, had been met with anger from many farmers who were concerned that introducing dozens of the large birds to the area would damage their livelihoods. The birds are scavengers and predators which generally feed on fish, birds and rabbits. But they also have a reputation for targeting newborn lambs and piglets.

Heather Duncan, press officer with Natural England, speaking about the bird spotted in North Norfolk, said: “Speaking to our ornithologist expert based in Norwich this is believed to be a juvenile white-tailed sea eagle and so is highly unlikely to mate or nest in the region. It is not uncommon to get juvenile sea eagles flying over. It is not clear where it came from, but it could have come from Scotland or further afield. There was recently a sea eagle spotted in Hampshire so it could be the same one.”

She said it was also unlikely the bird would stay in the county and would most likely fly back to where it had come from.


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