The Largest Prey Bird in the UK Makes Its First Return to England in 240 Years

On the Isle of Wight, close to Culver Cliff, the prey birds were last found in England in 1780. European sea eagle populations in various countries experienced significant declines and even extinction. This species is being helped to recover by Forestry England and the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation.

A five-year restoration program that involved the release of six young white-tailed eagles on the Isle of Wight last summer. In Scotland, where they were reintroduced in the 1970s, the birds were captured in the wild. Four young birds have been outfitted with GPS trackers and are currently traveling for the first time. The crew has received special insights into the birds’ behavior from the satellite data.

They spent several days exploring the national park and four hours exploring a 12-mile stretch of the coast between Whitby and Saltburn-by-Sea. G274 traveled the 325 miles of southeast England in three days, creating a wintertime friendship with G324 on the Isle of Wight. The least active of the four birds since being released, G324, was observed paragliding alongside G274 over the west Wight. White-tailed eagles don’t breed until they are 4 or 5, but if G274 and G324 survive, they might end up as a breeding pair. The crew’s unique understanding of the birds’ behavior is made possible by satellite data, which also shows that they prefer an open sky and a tailwind for spectacular maneuvers. Instead of flying far in search of food, “sit-and-wait” foragers prefer to wait and watch their prey.

The white-tailed eagle will be brought back to southern Europe by establishing a population in southern England that will connect and support new populations in the Netherlands, France, and Ireland.

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