White-tailed eagle chick hatches in England for first time in 243 years | Birds

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A white-tailed eagle chick has hatched in England for the primary time in additional than 240 years, and conservationists are “completely elated” by the brand new arrival.

White-tailed eagles had been as soon as widespread throughout England however had been extensively persecuted by people, and the final file of a pair breeding was in 1780. Since 2019, 25 of those eagles, that are Britain’s greatest hen of prey, have been launched to the Isle of Wight as a part of an effort to carry again long-lost species.

The male chick is the primary offspring from that preliminary launch. He’s 12 weeks previous and left the nest final week, though he’ll keep near residence and be fed by his dad and mom for the following few months. The situation of the nest has not been revealed to stop disturbance.

Steve Egerton-Learn, a undertaking officer for Forestry England, noticed the chick by his binoculars whereas standing in a neighbouring area. “We had been completely elated and gobsmacked,” he mentioned. “I’ve recognized there was a nest there for a very long time and I nonetheless don’t fairly imagine it’s occurred.”

White-tailed eagles, which have a wingspan of two.4 metres (8ft), normally don’t begin breeding till they’re 4 or 5 years previous, and this pair are solely three. They’re the primary to breed out of three pairs which have established territories in southern England.

A white-tailed eagle after catching a fish
A white-tailed eagle after catching a fish. {Photograph}: Yonhap/EPA

The discharge is licensed by Pure England, the federal government’s wildlife company. It follows a profitable reintroduction programme within the Scottish Highlands, the place white-tailed eagles began to be launched within the Nineteen Seventies after chicks had been taken from Norway. There are actually greater than 150 pairs in Scotland.

The reintroduction programme, led by Forestry England and the Roy Dennis Wildlife Basis, concerned shifting birds south. The feminine of the pair was initially from the Outer Hebrides and the male from north-west Sutherland. Extra releases are deliberate this summer time on the Isle of Wight.

The birds are sometimes known as sea eagles as a result of an enormous a part of their food regimen is fish. The Isle of Wight was chosen as a result of the Solent gives loads of meals, in addition to an abundance of cliffs and woodlands, offering potential nesting and resting websites. The birds have been noticed extensively in England, from Cornwall to the Norfolk coast, and have even made forays throughout the Channel.

The chick has been ringed and fitted with a GPS tag so ornithologists can observe its progress.

Roy Dennis, the founding father of the eponymous wildlife basis, described the event as a “important milestone”. He mentioned: “It is a very particular second for everybody who has labored on, supported and adopted this groundbreaking undertaking. Restoring a breeding inhabitants in southern England, the place the species was as soon as widespread, has been our final purpose. Many thought it was unattainable however we knew meals for eagles – fresh- and saltwater fish, cuttlefish, rabbits, hares and wild birds – was plentiful.”

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Conservationists are involved about sea eagles being illegally focused due to the perceived menace to the livelihoods of farmers and recreation taking pictures. Two of the eagles from the 2019 launch programme had been discovered lifeless after being poisoned, police mentioned in March. Out of the 25 birds launched, 16 are nonetheless alive.

A 2022 undertaking to reintroduce the birds to the Norfolk coast was placed on maintain final autumn owing to opposition from farmers, taking pictures pursuits, and conservationists fearful they might predate on wading birds, sources informed the Guardian.

Dennis mentioned: “We nonetheless have an extended strategy to go however the feeling of seeing the primary pair attain this stage is really unbelievable.”

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