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Explorations of a young English eagle

Hoca

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During the first five years of the White-tailed Eagle which we run in partnership with Forestry England, we have been able to monitor the movements of the translocated eagles in great detail thanks to the Ornitela satellite tags that we deploy on each bird prior to release. The young eagles have proved to be highly nomadic in their early years, with a number of birds travelling to northern Scotland, and two others crossing the English Channel to continental Europe. All have later returned to the Isle of Wight and the South Coast, particularly as they approach breeding age.

Last year the project reached a significant milestone, with the first chick, G625, fledging from a wild nest. We satellite tagged the young male before he left the nest, and it has been fascinating – and encouraging – to see that his behaviour has been identical to that of the translocated birds.

After leaving his parent’s territory on 6th January, G625 dispersed to Wiltshire before moving north-east to East Anglia in late January. He spent the next two months in Norfolk and Suffolk, favouring an area of the Brecks near Lakenheath and also an area to the north-east of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, where he was seen in the company of a colour-ringed Dutch White-tailed Eagle WN88. G625 was also observed catching fish at Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Mickle Mere Nature Reserve on a number of occasions. During February the young male also spent time in North Norfolk, visiting Holkham NNR and also frequenting an area near Flitcham.

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G625 with a pike at Mickle Mere (photo by ???)
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G625 (left) and Dutch White-tailed Eagle WN88 in Suffolk (photo by ???)

G625 left East Anglia on 26th March and flew north to the Lammermuir Hills in the Southern Uplands of Scotland, travelling 660km over the course of five days. Interestingly G625’s father G471 had spent the spring of his second calendar year in East Anglia, before flying north to the Southern Uplands where he remained for much of the summer. G625’s visit was more short-lived; he remained in the Lammermuirs until 11th April before heading south again, making a 667km return flight to the Brecks, again in five days, arriving in his favoured area near Lakenheath on 15th April (see map).

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G625’s return flight to the Lammermuirs (yellow = flight north, white = flight south)

This time G625 did not linger in East Anglia for long and instead returned to his natal nest on 17th April, before visiting the Isle of Wight on 18th April and again on 22nd– 23rd April. His return to the South Coast was a brief one though because on 29th April he flew 299km back to North Norfolk from the Knepp estate in West Sussex, where he had spent the night.

Next day G625 continued north, heading across the Wash and then onwards through Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, before arriving in the North York Moors after a day’s flight of 234km.

G625 lingered in the North York Moors for four days before continuing further north, passing through Teeside on 5th May and then reaching the Southern Uplands near Langholm the next day. On 7th he returned to the Lammermuirs, but only spent two further days there before he was on the move again. G625 crossed the Firth of Forth just before midday on 10th, and then continued north to the Scottish Highlands. That night he roosted in a plantation south of Dufftown in the north east of the Cairngorms having flown 280km.

On 11th May G625 explored Moray, flying north towards Fochabers, before returning south into the mountains again. The young male has remained in the Cairngorms since, favouring an area in the south-east of the national park, ranging between Glen Cova and Glen Lethnot in the Angus Glens.

It will be fascinating to see how long G625 remains in northern Scotland. It is possible he will linger north of the border for the rest of the summer, as several of the translocated birds have done. In fact, G641, a male from the Isle of Lewis that we translocated to the Isle of Wight last summer, has also been in the Cairngorms since 7th May, having departed the Isle of Wight on 18th April. In fact the two males met each other just after midday on 11th April and then roosted together that night on the Moray-Aberdeenshire border in the eastern Cairngorms, south of Bracklach. Next day G625 moved further south to the Angus Glens, while G641 has been favouring the mountains between Cabrach and Cock Bridge since. We will continue to monitor their satellite tracking data closely and report further interesting movements.

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Movements of G625 (yellow) and G641 (white) in the northern Scotland during May
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G625’s movements in 2024

The post Explorations of a young English eagle appeared first on Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation.
 
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