Introduction of White-tailed Eagles into Norfolk.

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    • #67785
      Cbc AdminCbc Admin
      Participant

      The Cley Bird Club has received the following from Leo Batten and Richard Porter.  There appear to be mixed views on this amongst club members – WE WOULD LIKE YOUR VIEWS.

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      Report to Cley Bird Club for consideration

      The proposed introduction of White-tailed Eagles into Norfolk has raised much concern amongst birdwatchers and conservationists in Norfolk. Unfortunately their voices haven’t been listened to by Natural England who have now granted a licence for the (re) introduction.

      Several local birdwatchers have formally presented their opposition to Natural England and also the NWT and National Trust, including Steve Harris and James McCallum. These concerns have been backed by detailed documentation by David Appleton and Richard Millington – see below.

      The first concern is the evidence that White-tailed Eagles ever bred in Norfolk or even East Anglia. The evidence strongly suggests they have never done so. If correct then this would make this an introduction (not re-introduction) and thus illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. A paper by David Appleton is the main reference for this.

      More importantly, however, is the impact that the introductions might have on the two internationally important tern colonies on the North Norfolk coast – on Scolt Head and Blakeney Point, 12 and 30 kms respectively from the release site. White-tailed eagles are known to predate terns.

      These colonies are highly vulnerable to both disturbance and predation as regularly witnessed by the National Trust Rangers and volunteers. The presence of a White-tailed Eagle when the terns are nesting, or preparing to nest, is even likely to result in the birds abandoning the site. The terns are especially prone to desertion when starting to nest. Furthermore the large creches of fledgling Sandwich Terns might prove very attractive to an eagle with hungry young to feed. Data collated by Richard Millington show the impact that White-tailed Eagles have had in other parts of their natural range.

      The two colonies on Scolt Head and Blakeney Point have over 6,000 pairs of breeding Sandwich Terns, over 300 pairs of Common Terns and recently over 400 pairs of Little Terns. These are huge and important colonies in global terms and the UK has an international responsibility to ensure they are safeguarded. The introduction of this top predator into Norfolk would be most unwise, in terms of our conservation priorities and responsibilities.

      Finally none of the people who have expressed concern about, or oppose, the introduction of White-tailed Eagles into Norfolk are opposed to their reintroduction into other parts of the UK where they formerly bred and where it is most unlikely they will impact on vulnerable nesting birds. They are also aware that birds from these re-introductions might well colonise Norfolk ‘naturally’, but that is now beyond anyone’s control.

      Leo Batten, Richard Porter

       

      Reintroduction of White-tailed Eagles into Norfolk  by David Appleton.

      White-tailed Eagles eat birds  by Richard Millington.

    • #67794
      Steve HaleSteve Hale
      Participant

      “Personally, I am not in favour of the (re)introduction of White-tailed Eagle into Norfolk, largely for reasons already given regarding our Tern colonies and other sensitive species.

      I would prefer that energies and resources were spent on supporting some of our (less glamorous) resident species such as Tree Sparrow and Corn Bunting etc which are struggling to thrive in our area.

      I do wonder sometimes as to what the true motives are behind all these so called (re)introductions.

      Cheers, Steve H “

    • #67848
      Andrew CoxAndrew Cox
      Participant

      I agree with the above. If the eagles have not bred in Norfolk previously, there is no way that this should happen. Even if they have, the tern colonies are far more valuable.

      Regards

      Andrew

    • #67869
      Malcolm (Al) DaviesMalcolm (Al) Davies
      Participant

      It appears, from the  literature provided, that the (re)introduction of the WTE is not a conservation priority and, therefore, should not be supported.It does, however, have the support of the Roy Dennis Foundation led by a man, an ardent conservationist, with an illustrious pedigree in the field.I wonder whether the reasons for his support should be presented on this  forum together with the views of other relevant conservation organisations such as Natural England, RSPB, NWT,NOA, National Trust and the Ken Hill Project itself. Thanks for putting this on the forum.

      Malcolm Davies

    • #67892

      Hi Cley Bird  Forum,

      I have to admit to being supportive of the Roy Dennis Foundation’s work, and I’m an admirer of Roy Dennis’s outstanding career – in awe of his determination and achievements would not be putting it too highly

      However, I do find the analysis by David Appleton logical, comprehensive and compelling in questioning the ecological basis for the issue of a licence by Natural England for this this particular project at Wild Ken Hill.

      In the sub-regional context of North Norfolk, particularly keeping in mind the national importance of the tern breeding colonies at Scolt Head and Blakeney Point National Nature Reserves, the licensing of this project is surely too risky to go ahead and should quickly be reviewed by Natural England, with explicit reasons for the outcome being made public well before the 2022 cohort of eagle chicks might become available.  The precautionary principle surely rules here:   it looks to me that there has been insufficient research to allow this project to start in 2022, and the licence appears flawed and probably open to legal challenge.

      I continue to wish the Isle of Wight project much success, but the possible negative impact of a parallel translocation project in Norfolk outweighs its merits.  Incidentally,  as a member of both Norfolk and Suffolk Wildlife Trusts,  I do support the idea of an Osprey chick translocation to the Suffolk estuaries area, utilising any surplus from the Rutland Water population.

      Graham White, Martlesham Heath, Suffolk

       

    • #67945
      Chris WheelerChris Wheeler
      Participant

      I know that I am coming in a bit late to this discussion and I suspect the subject has now been resolved in some way or other but I did have concerns over the similar proposal some years ago and have never really thought that we have quite the right habitat in this part of Norfolk.

      I have however seen White-tailed Eagles in inland wetland habitats in France, Hungary, Poland and along the Danube east of Vienna, I also believe that they have colonised Holland naturally in recent times.

      Although we do not seem to have historic evidence that they ever bred on the great fens of Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and Norfolk before they were drained 400 years or more ago, from what I have seen in eastern Europe it wouldn’t surprise me if they once did.

      As the new ‘Great Fen’ project develops over time I presume there will be opportunities for them to establish themselves into this habitat naturally, as have other wetland birds such as Egrets and Spoonbills done so elsewhere, and that in itself would provide  proof, if that were needed, that they were right to be there.

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