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17 AUGUST 2023
A male white-tailed eagle which was transferred from a nest on Grosvenor’s Reay Forest Estate in the north west Highlands of Scotland and released on the Isle of Wight as part of a conservation scheme to reintroduce the species in England has reared the first chick to fledge in the wild in the country in over 240 years.
The successful nest has been described as a landmark moment for conservationists working to return the revered bird of prey in England.
White-tailed eagles are Britain’s largest birds of prey with wingspans of up to 2.5m (over eight feet). The species was persecuted to extinction in England with the last breeding pair thought to have been in 1780.
As part of the programme, which was led by Forestry England and the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation, a charitable trust dedicated to wildlife conservation and research, a male from a nest on Grosvenor’s Reay Forest Estate and a female from one on the Outer Hebrides were released on the Isle of Wight in 2020 and successfully reared the male chick earlier this summer.
The chick was ringed and fitted with a satellite tag by licensed ornithologists from the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation enabling the project team to track the bird’s daily progress through its life.
The location of the nest is not being disclosed to protect the welfare of the birds and to prevent any disturbance to them either this year or if the birds return to breed at the same location in the future.
Grosvenor’s Reay Forest Estate is designated a special protection area (SPA) for the species and has long been a stronghold for both golden eagles and the slightly larger white-tailed eagles.
Building on accreditation from Wildlife Estates Scotland for our commitment to and success in enhancing the environment through conservation, habitat and wildlife management, we are continuing to work to protect, enhance, and restore the estate’s sensitive environmental habitats.
The reintroduction scheme aims to release 60 birds over five years and is conducted under licence from Natural England, the Government’s wildlife licensing authority. All the birds involved in the project have been collected under a licence from NatureScot, the Scottish Government body responsible for managing its natural heritage.
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