Bird is one of six released on Isle of Wight as first residents in England for 250 years
Fri 17 Jan 2020 12.39 GMTLast modified on Fri 17 Jan 2020 19.40 GMT
It is one of the country’s top predators, with a 2.4-metre (8ft) wingspan and a preference for plucking fish from the ocean.
So a young sea eagle’s choice of landlocked Oxfordshire as its home is unexpected. More surprising still is that the bird has lived for four months almost completely unnoticed by the public close to the M40 and the commuter belt.
The eagle, known as G3-93, is one of six satellite-tracked specimens released on to the Isle of Wight last summer, when they became England’s first resident sea eagles, or white-tailed eagles, for 250 years.
“He thinks he’s a red kite,” said Steve Egerton-Read, a project officer for the reintroduction programme led by Forestry England and the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation. “Like all young birds, he tries to learn from other birds. In the absence of other eagles, he’s learning from red kites. He flies around picking up bits of dead stuff – dead rabbits, dead game birds.”
Scavenging carrion is normal for young sea eagles, which rarely learn to hunt live animals in their first year. According to Egerton-Read, G3-93 is living on private land where the bird is safe from persecution by humans.
“Oxfordshire is full of game shoots but there’s no ill-will towards it and the landowners are very pleased to have another exciting bird to add to their list,” he said. “I don’t have many concerns for their safety over southern England and there is much more food for them here than in Scotland.”