Conservationists on the Isle of Wight have tracked a rare sea eagle on its incredible 10,000-mile journey to Europe.
The rare animal is part of an ongoing conservation program aimed at encouraging more birds of its species to settle on the Isle of Wight.
The young eagle was tracked for two years with a GPS device and followed from the UK to France, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden.
All the birds taking part in the project are fitted with trackers – allowing their flight paths to be tracked – and some have made journeys of nearly 7,000 miles in the past.
However, Tim Mackrill, who works at the wildlife foundation, said the two-year-old sea eagle is the first bird to be tracked to cross the Channel to mainland Europe.
He said: “We have found that in the first two years of their lives, eagles are very nomadic.
“We had a couple of birds fly in from the Isle of Wight right up the north coast of Scotland.
“But then we had this one, which is the first one to cross the Channel, which flew from a lot of Western Europe.
“It went through France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Denmark and then all the way to Sweden last spring.
“But because he was released on the Isle of Wight, he basically considers it his home now, so as he gets older and thinks about breeding, he goes back to England.”
The sea eagle was found to be missing one leg in December 2021, but incredibly continued to fly around Europe for another year.
Tim said this “was definitely not going to be easy.
“An eagle’s food is by nature fish because they can catch it, so there is a possibility that it can only catch fish with one leg.
“They basically grab the fish from the surface of the water with their feet, so I guess it’s learned to adapt.
“We think it still catches prey that way and they catch other food, like waterfowl and rabbits, so it’s possible it’s catching live praying mantis.
“White-tailed eagles are also scavengers, so they feed on dead animal carcasses and bird carcasses, so it’s a combination of the two things basically.
“The fact that he’s been alive for a year means he’s learned to adapt.”
The sea eagle (also known as the white-tailed eagle) is the largest bird of prey found in the UK.
Conservationists are working to reintroduce the bird widely after the species was driven to extinction by pesticide use and persecution.
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