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Sunday, 25 August 2019

White-tailed Eagles being reintroduced

Under the government’s twenty five year environment plan, Natural England has licensed the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation and Forestry England to reintroduce White-tailed Eagles onto the Isle of Wight.  The project was also approved by Scottish Natural Heritage on condition that juvenile birds are only taken from nests containing two or more eaglets. 

Photo of
White-tailed Eagle fishing

click image to enlarge
The first six juvenile eagles arrived on the Isle of Wight some weeks ago and have recently been released into the wild.  It is likely that these birds will initially stay close to their release site, where food parcels will be provided until the birds are ready for wider natural dispersal.   These young eagles are expected to visit suitable sites along the Solent coastline and will eventually forage along our shores and most probably visit the New Forest.

Several public meetings were held on the Island to speak to interested parties, including farmers, wildlife groups and members of the public.  Keith Metcalf, Conservation Officer of the local Milford Conservation Volunteers (MCV), thought that while there had been extensive consultation on the Island, no arrangements had been made for people on the mainland to find out about the reintroduction programme.  Keith told us that “If the Island programme is successful, people in coastal locations on the mainland are eventually likely to encounter these birds”.  It was with this in mind that Keith asked the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation if they would like some help in organising public meetings on this side of the Solent.

Photo of juvenile eagle
at site of release pen

click image to enlarge
Roy Dennis and Tim Mackrill have both been extensively involved in reintroduction programmes with eagles in Scotland and Ospreys at Rutland Water and more recently in Poole Harbour.  They agreed to support MCV’s mainland initiative.  

Keith said: “The RSPB has licensed MCV to show a film made about the White-tailed Eagle reintroduction on the Isle of Rum nearly 20 years ago. He said; “Richard Coomber, one of our MCV members was involved with the earlier Rum reintroduction programme and in April 1983 became the first person to see a White-tailed Eagle turning its egg on a nest since they became extinct!  Richard also told us that; “The RSPB  film crew and nest guardians used to come to his guest house once a week for meals and a bath”.  Richard still has an eagle feather given to him by the RSPB when he and his wife Julia finally left Mull in 1985.  

Another MCV member Peter Ryley, was one of seven RSPB photographers who helped film ‘The Eagle Odyssey on Mull.  Keith said that; “MCV had sold out of tickets for the film show within 24 hours of sending out invitations to our members.  We have now booked a second showing of the film for Saturday 5th October at 7pm in the Milford-on-Sea Community Centre in Sea Road”.

In addition to the 50 minute film show, the recently appointed Project Officer for the programme, Steve Egerton-Read, has agreed to come over from the Island to explain more about what we are likely to see around our shores and in the New Forest.  He will tell us how the birds were selected from nests in Scotland, flown south and how they were settled into their new home in Forestry England woodland.  Each bird will be satellite tagged so that the bird’s movements can be monitored.  A monitoring programme is being set up along the south coast and MCV members will be on hand to watch and record the birds which arrive along our section of coastline between Milford-on-Sea and Lymington.
For this second film show event, an invitation is extended to all who might be interested.  Keith said; “A ticket donation of £5 (or more) is suggested which will be used to help sponsor a tag for one of the birds”.

For further information contact Keith at:

Milford Conservation Volunteers

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