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Rare sighting of majestic white-tailed eagle at Buckenham Marshes in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 13:42 06 May 2017 | UPDATED: 12:35 08 May 2017

A white-tailed eagle was photographed at the Buckenham Marshes this week Picture: JAMES LOWEN

A white-tailed eagle was photographed at the Buckenham Marshes this week Picture: JAMES LOWEN

James Lowen

A majestic white-tailed eagle photographed at Buckenham Marshes in Norfolk has caused an excited stir among bird watchers and nature lovers.

Two pictures of the UK’s largest bird of prey, taken by photographer James Lowen and retweeted by the RSPB, show the large raptor being mobbed by harrier marshes while in flight over the reserve near the village of Buckenham.

Ben Lewis, RSPB warden at Strumpshaw and one of the first to spot the eagle last week excitedly wrote on an RSPB blog: “Stop press! A white tailed eagle has been seen at Buckenham Marshes.”

He said a call had come through alerting him of the bird’s presence when it was perched on a gate post.

“In my last blog I did say it was an interesting time of the year for birds, but was not expecting an eagle!” he added.

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Mr Lewis said the sighting had caused a lot of excitement and around 30 to 40 people had gone to see it on on day last week, but the following day there were even more people eager to spot the eagle, which is sometimes called a “flying barn door” due to its size.

“We’re very lucky to see it as in East Anglia we probably only get a sighting of one every two years,” he said. “It was an immature bird and is likely to have come over from the near continent.”

During the early 20th century the white-tailed eagle became extinct in the UK due to illegal killing, and the present population was reintroduced. Mr Lowen said he was fortunate to get the pictures.

“Although I’ve been lucky enough to photograph white-tailed eagles in Scotland, Norway and Japan, doing so in Norfolk - just a few miles from home - was truly special.”

The bird is considered a close cousin of the bald eagle and can be recognised by its brown body plumage and pale head and neck. The short, wedge-shaped tail feathers of adults are also white. It is on average the largest of any eagle, measuring 66-69cm in length with a 1.78-2.45 metre wingspan. They form monogamous, life-long pair bonds, and have an average adult life span of 21.

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