Sea Eagles to Swoop in Suffolk?

As part of our mission to keep you updated about raptor news from around the region, we thought you'd be interested in a story which recently appeared in a local newspaper, the Ipswich Evening Star, about the efforts to bring the spectacular White-Tailed Sea Eagle to the Suffolk coast-line.

With a wing-span of up to eight feet, White-Tailed Sea Eagles are the largest raptor species to be found within the UK, and would make a stunning new addition to the wildlife in this part of part of the country.  But as with most re-introduction programs which prove successful in the long term, it will take an enormous amount of effort to establish the species here.

Quoting Paul Geater, Environment Editor of the Evening Star: "Talks are continuing into an ambitious proposal to re-introduce White-Tailored Sea Eagles along the Suffolk coast. There has still been no firm decision on their re-introduction, but experts are drawing up plans assuming the first birds will be released on the coast during 2009.

The White-Tailed Sea Eagle was hunted into extinction in Britain during the Victorian era, but has since been successfully re-introduced off the west coast of Scotland. The first birds were introduced there in 1975, and this year 42 pairs have raised young - an increase of six on 2006. Now scientists have started re-introducing sea eagles on the east coast of Scotland, and are looking towards bringing them south in future years.

Richard Rafe from English Nature, who are co-ordinating the re-introduction program, said the birds to be brought to East Anglia would come from a large population in Poland. “In many ways the coast of East Anglia, stretching from the Wash to the Thames Estuary, is far better suited to sea eagles than their current range in Scotland. There is no reason why they should not do even better here.”

The sea eagle is the largest European bird and is closely related to the American bald eagle. Unlike some other eagles - like the Golden Eagle, for example - the Sea Eagle is not afraid of humans: “There is no record of anyone, not even a child, being attacked by a sea eagle," continued Mr Rafe. Though these birds eat gulls and fish, these birds are often happier eating carrion, he said. “There have been reports of eagles taking rabbits and even pets, and there is some concern that they could take lambs - that is why we are talking to livestock farmers.”

Exact sites for the release of sea eagles have not been identified. Only a few birds are expected to be released but they have a huge range so could be seen over a wide stretch of the Suffolk coastline.

For more information about the project, you could contact Meanwhile we will keep you updated with this project, and of course we wish all those concerned the very best of luck in their endeavours.