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Delight as rare sea eagle visits Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 18:05 12 August 2020 | UPDATED: 08:31 13 August 2020

File photo of a white-tailed eagle, also known as a sea eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla). One of the birds has been spotted over north Norfolk. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Neil_Burton

File photo of a white-tailed eagle, also known as a sea eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla). One of the birds has been spotted over north Norfolk. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/Neil_Burton

Neil_Burton

One of England’s first white-tailed eagles in 240 years has been spotted over Norfolk.

File photo of a white-tailed eagle, also known as a sea eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla). One of the birds has been spotted over north Norfolk. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/JMrocekFile photo of a white-tailed eagle, also known as a sea eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla). One of the birds has been spotted over north Norfolk. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto/JMrocek

The bird, a kind of sea eagle, was one of six which were released on the Isle of Wight last year as part of a conservation project to return lost species to this country.

Four of the birds from the project led by Forestry England and the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation have survived, and their flights are being monitored by small satellite trackers they were fitted with.

Mr Dennis said: “For most of the summer this one has been up on the North Yorkshire Moors, but for about two weeks now it has been up on the north Norfolk coast. On Tuesday (August 11) it was up around Shouldham and Marham.”

Mr Dennis said he had been told of many sightings of the eagle, but bird watchers often confused them with other species such as red kites. He said the most noticeable thing about sea eagles was their size.

Mr Dennis said: “They’re just massive. You’re talking an 8ft-9ft wingspan.

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“They’re bigger than anything you’ll see in the sky, so if you’re unsure what you’ve seen, you haven’t seen one.”

Mr Dennis said it was common for white-tailed eagles to roam far and wide in their early years, as they did not breed until they were four years old.

He said: “They go off exploring. Some of them have found estuaries where they catch grey mullet, and others find places where they can hunt rabbits, and I guess that’s what the one in Norfolk is doing.

“How long it will stay in Norfolk, we don’t know.

“Another one of them has been up on the Scottish Borders. We would expect them to move back to the south coast of England eventually, but at the moment, we’re just pleased that four of them are still doing well.”

The white-tailed eagle is the largest bird of prey which can be seen in the UK. They were once a common sight in England’s skies but were hunted to extinction in the 18th century, and they became extinct in the whole of the UK in 1918. Their first successful reintroduction was in Scotland in the 1970s.


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