White-tailed eagle spotted in Littlehampton

A white-tailed eagle has been spotted in Littlehampton, ending what was otherwise a ‘shocking morning’ of birdwatching.

Monday, 22nd March 2021, 3:22 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd March 2021, 3:27 pm

Adam Huttly, founder and chief executive of office supplies company Red-Inc, was thrilled to see the bird of prey, one of the juveniles from the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation reintroduction project on the Isle of Wight.

Thrilled to see the eagle circling above him, Adam said: “I was returning back through Littlehampton after an hour’s birding at West Beach when I heard a commotion from the gulls.

“Normally it’s a buzzard or red kite they are harassing but when I looked up, there was a juvenile white-tailed eagle circling overhead.

“At one point, the gulls dropped off and as I fired off a few shots with my camera, a buzzard came into the picture. As the UK’s largest bird of prey, with a wing span reaching 2.5 metres as an adult, the eagle absolutely dwarfed the buzzard.”

White-tailed eagles were once widespread along the whole of the south coast, from Cornwall to Kent, but were driven to extinction, with the last pair bred on the Isle of Wight in 1780.

Following the reintroduction of these eagles to Scotland, the foundation was granted licences by Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage to begin an English reintroduction in partnership with Forestry England, based on the Isle of Wight.

The first six birds were released in August 2019 and have been seen a few times in West Sussex.

The sighting of a white-tailed eagle in Littlehampton. Picture: Adam Huttly
The sighting of a white-tailed eagle in Littlehampton. Picture: Adam Huttly

Adam said: “It was certainly nice to see one for the first time so close to home and on such a nice sunny day.”

The white-tailed eagle dwarfs the buzzard. Picture: Adam Huttly