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White-tailed Eagle in the New Forest - not from the Isle of Wight!

Russ writes:

This morning we’ve received an exciting report of an immature White-tailed Eagle heading south over the western New Forest. It was captured on video, and a screengrab is below:

This appears to be same bird that was seen over several sites in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire on 07 Feb, with a thick metal ring on the right leg. I’ve compared images of the two birds, and although I can’t resolve the metal ring on today’s silhouetted bird, it does look like the pattern of missing and worn feathers is a good match (see photo at link below).

Interestingly, initial inquiries by the observers of the bird on 07 Feb have indicated that it is not from the Isle of Wight re-introduction, and is therefore most likely to be a migrant from northern Europe. The thick metal ring on the right leg certainly looks different to the rings used on the Isle of Wight birds, based on images available online (e.g. see link below). If so, this would be the third bird seen in the New Forest in the last decade that has originated from northern populations, with the most recent being present last winter from early Dec to at least 11 Jan.

There have also been several sightings of released Isle of Wight birds in the New Forest in recent months, with a probable on 05 Feb at Holbury in the southeast of the forest being the most recent (further details on the reintroduction at the link below). However, this latest sighting suggests that birds from different populations are now occurring in our region, so we can’t take anything for granted! It will be fascinating to see if there is any interchange between these birds of different origins in the coming months.

Many thanks to Judy Hunt and Martin Bennet for swiftly providing details of today’s sighting.

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