White-tailed eagle spotted at Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Micklemere Reserve
A bird-watching enthusiast has spoken of his shock after seeing the UK’s largest bird of prey, nicknamed the ‘flying barn door’, in Suffolk today.
Bird-watching enthusiasts flocked to Micklemere Reserve, run by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, in Pakenham to catch a glimpse of the rare and protected bird, which has a wingspan of up to 9ft.
The apex predator was first spotted at around 9.45am before flying off in a northerly direction at around 10.05am.
Paul Haines, a wildlife enthusiast who lives next to the Suffolk Wildlife Trust Micklemere Reserve, acted quick to take some treasured photographs of the eagle.
He said: “Apparently there was one spotted in Essex on Saturday so maybe it is doing a tour of East Anglia!
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“It was amazing to see it. It is the biggest bird of prey in the UK. It mocks all the other birds. There were around five or six hundred birds and geese and they totally scattered like someone had fired a gun.
“They are extremely rare. They have been spotted over the Suffolk coast once or twice but it is thought they have never been spotted in-land. I’ve not seen one in the wild before. When you see something like that you would think it has escaped a falconry or something like that, but it didn’t have any rings.”
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He said a crowd of around 30 people had gathered before it flew off.
“I have no idea what it was doing here,” he added.
“They are very common in Norway and there have been strong easterly winds in the last three or four days, so that could be why.
“It could have eaten some of the birds but they are not overly-predatory birds as they are not that fast because they are so massive. They usually eat dead stuff, like deer carcasses.”
The white-tailed sea eagle, as the species is also sometimes referred to, was hunted to extinction in Britain in the 19th century.
Although re-introduced in Scotland through breeding programmes, it is still included on the RSPB’s Red list of UK birds because of the long-term threat to the population.
Controversial proposals to reintroduce white-tailed eagles to the Suffolk coast were scrapped in June 2010
The scheme faced fierce opposition from local farmers and landowners concerned the birds would harm livestock.
Natural England and the RSPB had been leading a project looking at the possibility of releasing the enormous birds of prey in the county.