A white-tailed eagle – one of 7 released on the Isle of Wight last July – has become the first to head across the English Channel.
According to the tracker worn by the sea eagle at all times since its release, the eagle known as G462 flew 29 miles across the channel to Boulogne-sur-Mer on Tuesday lunchtime, before stopping in the southern area of Saint-Quentin – a further 105 miles away.
The birds of prey are part of a reintroduction project on the Island, coordinated by Forestry England and the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation, which is expected to last 5 years. Up to 60 white-tailed eagles will be released with the aim of establishing an initial population of 6- 8 breeding pairs on the Isle of Wight and along the mainland coast.
The Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation said:
“As we have come to expect, the 2020 cohort of young White-tailed Eagles from the Isle of Wight are all ranging widely across England at present, as they learn the landscape for the first time.
“We wondered how long it would be before one of the young birds crossed the English Channel into France, and it finally happened today. G463 made a 47 km (29 mile) crossing between Dungeness and Boulogne-sur-Mer between 13:05 and 13:45, aided by a strong north-westerly tailwind.
“It will be fascinating to follow his explorations on the continent. A long-term aim of the project is to help link White-tailed Eagles in the UK with those in continental Europe, and this is the first sign that it is beginning to happen.”
The Isle of Wight was chosen as the location to reintroduce the white-tailed eagles, also known as sea eagles, as it offers an ideal habitat for these coastal loving birds with plentiful sources of food in the surrounding waters. It also offers a central position on the south coast allowing the birds to disperse and link with other populations in Scotland, Ireland and now, France.
13 eagles have been released since the beginning of the project, although 3 have sadly died.