Isle of Wight sea eagle makes Channel crossing to France

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image copyrightGetty Images
image captionThe birds, which have a wingspan of up to 8ft (2.4m), had not been recorded in England since 1780

A white-tailed eagle reintroduced on the Isle of Wight has become the first to cross the English Channel.

The eagle, known as G463, flew 47km (29 miles) between Dungeness and Boulogne-sur-Mer on Tuesday lunchtime.

According to a tracker it wears, the eagle then flew a further 169km (105 miles) through northern France before stopping near Saint-Quentin.

The young male eagle is one of seven released as juveniles on the island last July.

The Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation, which released the bird, said: "We wondered how long it would be before one of the young birds crossed the English Channel.

"It made the crossing between 13:05 and 13:45, aided by a strong north-westerly tailwind. It will be fascinating to follow his explorations on the continent."

image copyrightGoogle/Roy Dennis Foundation
image captionA tracker worn by the eagle showed it flew across the Channel to France on Tuesday lunchtime

The young birds of prey, also known as sea eagles, are part of a five-year reintroduction project on the island between Forestry England and the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation.

According to the charity, the first group of eagles, released in 2019, are all back on the Isle of Wight or in the local region after exploring widely across England.

Natural England has issued a licence for the release of up to 60 birds to the charity. The project will see the birds released annually, but they are not expected to breed until 2024.

So far 13 sea eagles have been released, but three have died.

The birds, which have a wingspan of up to 8ft (2.4m), had previously not been recorded in England since 1780.

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