Brrrrr... Happy New Year!

From all the Team Here at the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary, we wish you a Healthy, Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Well, as everywhere it’s been a cold and snowy start to 2010 (to put it mildly) but the team braved even the most inclement weather as they struggled in to ensure that all the residents of SOS were well fed and cared for through such an uncharacteristically long and ice-bound cold spell.

This amazing NASA shot showed the whole of the UK unusually all covered in snow

As usual, the work of the hospital continues no matter what the weather and we have seen several young owls brought in that basically haven’t coped with the conditions too well and have needed some TLC and lots of feeding up to set them to rights again.

The falconers have also been hard at work on the new falconers huts, which are really coming on a treat and which will help to provide even better facilities for the care of the raptors here at SOS.

The Superb White-tailed Sea Eagle…
… is it yet set to soar above the Suffolk coastline?

In December 2007, our blog reported on the possible re-introduction of the Sea Eagle, sometimes known as the White-tailed Eagle, to Suffolk. However since then there has been a fair amount of controversy about the project, with various parties unable to agree as to the viability of the scheme.

The Sea Eagle is the biggest bird of prey in the Uk, with a wing-span of up to 8ft. The study regarding re-introducing this impressive species to Suffolk began in 2006, because it was considered that Suffolk provided the very best lowland, wetland habitat. David Wood, Chairman of the Suffolk Coast and Heaths AONB (Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty) said “It could lead to these magnificent birds once more becoming a regular sight over lowland Britain.”

At the time, there were fears that the advent of the Sea Eagle in Suffolk would prove disasterous for the regional Bittern population and it was suggested that the project should be moved to Norfolk. The reception to the idea was not much better there, with fierce opposition from farmers and landowners who were concerned about their free-range piglets and poultry and also their lambs.

It was then decided that more research needed to be done into the possible co-existence of Sea-Eagles and Bitterns and recently, a spokesperson for Natural England has been reported as saying that in light of this research, it would appear that “… any risk presented to Bitterns will be minimal…”. So now the plan is to bring the project back to Suffolk.

The RSPB has suggested that Sea Eagles are in fact quite lazy birds and whilst they will hunt for fish, small mammals and birds they are far more likely to scavenge. However, there is still concern that farmers organisations aren’t being given enough information about the impact that these raptors would have on the area.

In December 2009, the BBC “Look East” programme reported that there was now considerable support for backing the scheme, including from County & District Councils, the RSPB, the Forestry Commission, the Suffolk Wildlife Trust & the East of England Tourist Board.

However the Natural England organisation has recognised the need for more research and more discussions with farmers unions, so any formal consultation wouldn’t be likely before the second half of 2010, with the earliest possible release being August 2011.

So will these glorious birds of prey yet grace our Suffolk coastline? For now we’ll have to wait and see, but we’ll be sure to keep you posted!