Magnificent eagles may be Suffolk-bound

WITHIN two years, magnificent birds like this could be swooping over Suffolk, it was confirmed today.Talks are today continuing into an ambitious proposal to re-introduce sea - or white-tailed - eagles along the Suffolk coast.

WITHIN two years, magnificent birds like this could be swooping over Suffolk, it was confirmed today.

Talks are today continuing into an ambitious proposal to re-introduce sea - or white-tailed - eagles along the Suffolk coast.

There has still been no firm decision on their re-introduction, but experts are drawing up plans assuming the first birds will be released on the coast during 2009.

The bird was hunted into extinction in Britain during the Victorian era - but has been successfully re-introduced off the west coast of Scotland.

The first birds were introduced there in 1975, and this year 42 pairs have raised young - an increase of six on 2006.

Now scientists have started re-introducing sea eagles on the east coast of Scotland, and are looking towards bringing them south in future years.

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Richard Rafe from English Nature, which is working on the re-introduction programme, said the birds to be brought to East Anglia would come from a large population in Poland.

He said: “In many ways the coast of East Anglia - from the Wash to the Thames Estuary - is far better suited to sea eagles than their current range in Scotland.

“There is no reason why they should not do even better here than they have in Scotland.”

The sea eagle is the largest European bird - and is closely related to the American bald eagle.

Unlike some other eagles, especially the golden eagle, it is not afraid of humans and is not difficult to spot, especially as its wingspan can be as great as eight feet.

Mr Rafe said the size of the bird should not intimidate people.

He said: “There is no record of anyone, not even a child, being attacked by a sea eagle. Their normal food is rabbits or gulls.”

They are often happier eating creatures that are already dead, he said.

“There have been some reports of eagles taking pets and there is some concern that they could take lambs - that is why we are talking to livestock farmers.”

Exact sites for the release of sea eagles have not been identified, but the Suffolk coast is expected to be a prime location for them.

Only a few birds are expected to be released but they have a huge range so could be seen over a wide area.

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