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White-tailed Eagle Near Scarborough!

  • Sat 26th Mar, 2022

The YCN team love the forests and moors of the North York Moors National Park. Any opportunity and we are roaming around them looking for wildlife! But on Friday 21st March we were ‘gripped off’ (birding-speak for missing a bird on your patch) by Brett Richards, a good friend from Flamborough! Brett takes up the story, which contains some useful identification tips for anyone looking for the eagle.

White-tailed Eagle 21-03-14 Wykeham Forest © Brett Richards White-tailed Eagle 21-03-14 Wykeham Forest © Brett Richards ''We were watching from the raptor viewpoint at Wykeham Forest when Cynthia (Brett’s wife) saw the bird at 0850 and asked “is this a Buzzard?” – she clearly felt it was something odd. I quickly got onto it, and although it was the only bird in sight, distant and against the sky, it immediately appeared to be a very large bird, and when it gave a lazy, heavy wing-flap, I suspected it was an eagle.

White-tailed Eagle 21-03-14 Wykeham Forest © Brett Richards White-tailed Eagle 21-03-14 Wykeham Forest © Brett Richards I could see white at the rear of the body (bird head-on) and suspected White-tailed, and this was confirmed as the bird wheeled round, revealing very broad, fingered wings, with a bulging rear edge, and a short, wedge-shaped white tail.

The large head projection was both long and wide-looking. Remiges (flight feathers) appeared blackish, mantle and upperwing-coverts paler & browner, as was the head/neck projection. The tail was white, but at times I got the impression of a vague darkish terminal band. This can perhaps be appreciated in 2 or 3 of the photos.

White-tailed Eagle 21-03-14 Wykeham Forest © Brett Richards White-tailed Eagle 21-03-14 Wykeham Forest © Brett Richards The photos show the large whitish bill and yellow feet. I didn’t notice these through the scope, as I was busy digiscoping while it was at its closest (though still distant) but Cynthia saw the bill OK.

The bird slowly moved East, soaring on slightly bowed wings held flattish (i.e. not raised or lowered), with the occasional ponderous flap. We lost sight of it behind some trees at 0905 hrs.

Although some adults can show a dark terminal band throughout their lives, because of this (if the impression were real) and the pale in the axillary region, I thought it could perhaps be a sub-adult rather than a full adult.''

White-tailed Eagle & Common Buzzard Czech Republic 06-04-09 © Richard BainesWhite-tailed Eagle & Common Buzzard Czech Republic 06-04-09 © Richard Baines We have also included here a photo of a juvenile White-tailed Eagle I took in the Czech Republic a few years ago to show the size difference with Common Buzzard!

STOP PRESS The Eagle is still present today - let’s hope we see it on our National Park Safari tomorrow!

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