White-tailed Eagles

We visited Newtown National Nature Reserve (after brunch at The Freshwater Coffee House) as there was a fresh breeze; when we last went in July it was baking, and we all got rather sunburnt…

White-tailed Eagles have been released on the Isle of Wight as part of a reintroduction project in 2019 and 2020, with a dozen more this year. My parents saw four last week over their side of the Island at Culver Down, but I was hoping to see one on this trip.

We went in to the bird hide at Newtown, and there was a flurry of excitement as a pair of eagles had been spotted across the water. They really are huge – a pair of great hulking birds: one on the shore, another on a post. Apparently they were a male and female from 2019, with a youngster over out of sight in the copse, watching his elders to learn the ropes, possibly about how to catch the grey mullet that are a readily available source of food for the eagles. The adults were between two boats – see below – though of course I was unable to get any sort of decent picture on my zoomed-in-to-maximum phone camera! I had a good look through the binoculars though, and the scopes that were helpfully trained on these magnificent raptors.

There is no danger of confusing them with a Buzzard; eagles look absolutely enormous with a very boxy shape. I showed my birdwatching booklet to Jim, the volunteer, and he thought it was marvellous, and said it would be great for people who wanted to get an idea of the birds they might see when visiting the Island as it was a great introduction. Music to my ears! Validation from birding folk is always so encouraging as they are a very different from a classic field guide and as such may not chime with experienced ornithologists, but so far the response has been really favourable.

We also saw Oystercatchers, a couple of Little Egrets, a Mute Swan, and lots of Canada Geese. I love the big skies and cute Swallows and Amazons boats moored long the shore, and even the browned stalks of the wildflower meadow had a quiet beauty which sums up this time of year around the Autumnal Equinox.

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