BRITAIN’S largest bird of prey paid a rare visit to the south when it was spotted at the RSPB Amberley Wildbrooks.
There are 49 breeding pairs of white-tailed eagles in Scotland, but one has not been seen in Sussex for 50 years.
Experts believe the juvenile bird had been forced further south-west, due to severe winter weather, from Scandinavia or the Baltic where there is a large population.
Peter Hughes, RSPB warden, said: “When I got a call on Saturday [December 11] lunchtime from someone who said he was watching a white-tailed eagle at Amberley Wildbrooks, I’ll admit I was a little sceptical at first. But fifteen minutes later I was there too, watching this magnificent bird.”
White-tailed eagles are mainly found in northern Europe.
They became extinct in the UK during the early 19th century due to persecution, but through a reintroduction programme there is now a small UK population which is confined to Scotland.
Mr Hughes added: “The big fella spent most of Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning on the Amberley brooks, causing the local crows a great deal of worry and being admired by many local birders, before heading off west.”