Sea eagle settles with kites in Oxfordshire

Birds flying Image copyright Forestry England
Image caption Forestry England said one eagle (below) had been seen roosting with red kites in Oxfordshire

One of six white-tailed eagles released on the Isle of Wight as part of a reintroduction programme has settled in Oxfordshire with a group of red kites.

The young male, named G3-93, has been seen feeding on a deer carcass.

The UK's largest birds of prey, also known as sea eagles, were in reintroduced in August, 240 years after they were last recorded in England.

Forestry England said one eagle had died, while three birds remain on the Isle of Wight.

A fifth bird, nicknamed Culver, flew to the Essex coast and back to the island before observers stopped receiving tracking data from his tag.

Despite the birds normally fishing in shallow waters and along coastlines, Forestry England said the "wanderings" of the eagle to landlocked Oxfordshire was "typical, particularly in their first two years".

"Perhaps most interestingly he has been closely associating with the local red kites," it added.

"Like red kites, young white-tailed eagles are scavengers and it seems very likely that he is following the kites in the search for food."

Image copyright Mike Crutch
Image caption White-tailed eagles feed mainly on fish and water birds

The white-tailed eagle, which has a wingspan of up to 2.5m (8ft), was once a common sight across the southern coast of England.

Persecution led to the birds being wiped out, with the last known breeding place recorded as Culver Cliff on the Isle of Wight in 1780.

Natural England issued a licence to the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation for the five-year reintroduction programme in April.

The project will see at least six birds released annually, but they are not expected to breed until 2024.

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