This is a catch-up on white-tailed eagles.

Last Monday's East Anglia Daily Times had a two-page spread on the subject of white-tailed eagles. It included large chunks of my blog (6 January) on myths about white-tailed eagles, Derek Moore's comments which also appeared here on my blog, a piece by Nicola Currie, the CLA's Regional Director, and an article about the value of white-tailed eagles to the local economy. 

The CLA are still questioning whether white-tailed eagles have a history of occurrence - but not with any data.  Nicola Currie writes 'Archeological evidence is claimed to show that the sea eagle was here long ago...'.  In fact, archeological evidence shows that this bird was here long ago, and other evidence shows that they remained until not that long ago!

Iain Dunnett, the manager of the Suffolk - the Greenest County project, has visited Mull and Hungary to see places where white-tailed eagles live alongside agriculture and says that in both places 'the local population, including farmers, have embraced the eagle.'.  He also writes 'The challenge for farmers and landowners is to overcome perceived fears and enable the reintroduction to occur with farmers receiving the maximum benefit.'.  So, no doubt about what Mr Dunnett thinks but I would re-write his sentence as follows 'The challenge for farmers and landowners is to overcome perceived fears and enable the reintroduction to occur with farmers receiving fair compensation for any damage and allowing the wider community to experience the maximum benefit.'.  But I wouldn't change a word from his conclusion 'Whether viewed following a fishing boat or roosting in a pine tree this bird would add further majesty to, and enrich the atmosphere of, the Suffolk coast.'.  This is a very welcome viewpoint - the economic value of these birds, and spiritual value too, should not be overlooked.

A letter also appeared from BASC Regional Officer which talked a lot of sense, such as 'Sea eagles simply do not have the agility and would waste more energy pursuing game birds than they would gain from it.  Like buzzards they prefer carrion.'.

And I received a letter from an academic from Southampton University, Dale Serjeantson, whose speciality is zooarcheology.  She was irritated to read newspaper reports that white-tailed eagles had never bred in East Anglia as she regards the data as 'quite abundant' that they did.  In fact, these birds must have been 'quite common' in her (expert) opinion.  Ms Serjeantson sent me a chapter she has written on extinct British birds which will appear in a book later this year.  I might send the CLA a copy when the book is published.

Overall, it seems that the hysteria is dying away and the potential return of the white-tailed eagle to lowland England is being talked about in a more rational way.

Anonymous
  • Hi Bob,yes I agree that some people criticise RSPB at first chance just hope I don't give that impression as I feel something like 90% of the time happy to give them praise and there is no way that they can please everyone all the time covering such a wide range of subscribers and issues.What I dislike is when people cancel renewing because of some small issue and not taking all the other good work into consideration.

    Yes Mark feel sure however many times someone sees a Sea Eagle don't think they will ever forget the first one,even Dave who must have seen more than most.

  • David, Sooty and Bob - thanks for your comments.  Just to reiterate the point that you have all got to anyway - the RSPB is not supporting nor leaning towards a cull of eagle owls. And a read of my blogs on the subject, or the main RSPB web site, would show that.  Glad to have cleared that up (I hope!).

    Back to white-tailed eagles though.  I think Sooty makes a good point that eagles aren't that easy to see even when present.  However, I would think that they would be regular visitors to some sites in Suffolk were they to be re-introduced, and that patience would be rewarded for visitors!  I'm sure that those people who do get good views of eagles will never forget them.  That's what amazing natural sights do for us - whether they be bluebell woods in spring, flocks of geese in winter, birdsong or autumn colours - nature refreshes the parts other parts of life cannot reach!

  • Hi Mark my apologies you have made it clear that RSPB are not in favour of cull on E O afraid I had not taken it in but strangely reading lots about E O lots of people who I would think not doing it deliberately feel that the RSPB have the view of supporting a cull,obviously how misinformation comes about.

    Hi Dave thanks for that you are quite right but not mischievous on purpose just bee taking too much notice of what others been saying.Personally and this does not excuse me but think it would be better if when any of us make a mistake the RSPB through various ways for example on the comment page or a private E-Mail or a comment on our individual page let us know and then at least we would not repeat it.For sure anything that is repeated starts to get believed.

    This is a mistake by me but think my comment about correcting us would do well to get taken on board so that at least a lesson learnt as for sure if we comment and Mark does tend to publish all,there are always going to be mistakes.

  • Sooty, I did try and reply earlier and then lost the comment box, so if 2 replies appear I apologise.  The RSPB does have a public position on EOs.  I have not heard a cull suggested by the RSPB and that would not be their decision.  I would argue that EOs are currently protected being 'wild' birds and even if the current consultation on EOs does result in them going onto Sched 9 of WCA this doesnt remove that but only prevents release of birds.

    I do find it strange that there is a minority of people around who will criticise the RSPB at any opportunity.  This is always on a single issue when the the RSPB does cover so much ground.  I do have to declare some interest as I was an RSPB Council member for 5 years and even then do not always agree with the RSPB.  One thing I have great regard for is that the RSPB does not make any policy or pronouncement without having undergone the apporpriate research.  Looking on the internet it does seem that the varying views on EOs seems to vary according to the ideals of that particular organisation, which is only to be expected.  Bob

  • Sooty. You're clearly in danger of believing the misinformation swirling around out there and are actually doing your bit to spread it further! I'm sure this isn't your intention. All you have to do is re-read Mark's recent blog on the subject of eagle owls and the Defra consultation where he makes it very clear what RSPB's stance is on the subject. To keep repeating that RSPB is 'leaning towards a cull' is mischievous to say the least.