Mid Wales

Rare golden eagle spotted near Aberystwyth

A sighting has been made in Ceredigion of the rare golden eagle, which disappeared in Wales 200 years ago.

The bird of prey has been photographed in Pontrhydygroes, near Aberystwyth, but it is not known how it ended up there.

The RSPB said the bird, which is now seen mostly in Scotland, could have escaped from captivity or might have lost its way.

About a dozen birdwatchers descended on the village over the weekend.

There are about 450 breeding golden eagle pairs in the UK, according to the RSPB.

It is said the golden eagle prefers the wild countryside of peatlands, uplands and mountains, but is threatened by habitat change and inappropriate development.

Pontrhydygroes is in the Ystwyth Valley, about nine miles from Aberystwyth.

Grahame Madge of the RSPB said if the golden eagle was a wild bird it was "exciting news".

The bird could be from Republic of Ireland or Scotland, he said.

"There have been very few sightings of golden eagles in Wales and they have probably escaped from captivity," he said.

"We're not sure at the moment if it's a wild bird or one that's escaped from captivity. If it is a wild bird then it's exciting news."

Mr Madge said the golden eagle disappeared in Wales about 200 years ago through persecution.

He said it was predominately found in Scotland, but had been reintroduced to the Irish republic about a decade ago.

There was only one golden eagle left in England, he said.

"We find that golden eagles are still regularly poisoned in Scotland near areas where grouse are found" Mr Madge added.

"Arguably, the golden eagle would be more secure in Wales than Scotland, and there's plenty of food. It normally takes rabbits and wood pigeons - animals of that size."

Jeff Page, owner the Miners' Arms pub in the village, said the bird was spotted about a month ago by local man Gareth James.

"I've seen the eagle and it's an amazing sight," he said.

"It's a massive bird. We have a lot of buzzards in the area and they're a big bird, but they're half the size of the golden eagle.

Mr Page added: "I've had a car park full of twitchers over the weekend. There was about a dozen and they've come from south Wales and from as far afield as Nottingham."

Last year, Scotland's golden eagle population was granted extra protection.

The Scottish government said special protection area (SPA) status would cover six new sites where the birds of prey are known to exist.

The 350,000 hectares of northern and western Scotland includes parts of the Cairngorms, Moidart and Glen Etive and is in addition to eight older sites.

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