Civil Air Support Crew Praised by Conservationists After White-Tailed Eagle Chick Flew for First Time in 240 Years in England

Last Updated on: 21st November 2023, 11:32 pm

After centuries of absence, a breeding colony of Britain’s biggest bird of prey has successfully hatched a healthy eaglet in England for the first time since 1780. The successful hatching is the result of a project initiated by Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation and Forestry England to restore the breeding population of white-tailed eagles.

Due to the Covid pandemic, the project came to a halt in early 2020, when the logistics of moving young birds from the Outer Hebrides required teams of professionals who would depend upon hotels and other facilities to support them during their journey, which was not possible due to lockdown restrictions.

However, Civil Air Support provided a solution. Pilot Graham Mountford and his zoologist daughter Helen were able to work together in isolation to relocate a batch of white-tailed eagle chicks from Stornoway to the Isle of Wight. The twin-engine Cessna 340 completed the flight in just 2 hours and 30 minutes.

The first eaglet, a male chick born to the parents transported by the Civil Air Support crew, has now reached 12 weeks of age and has been able to leave his nest for the first time. With a satellite tag, the historic chick’s progress and location will be tracked throughout his life to provide experts with a greater understanding of how the eagles are adapting to their environment again.

Dr Tim Mackrill of the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation commended the role played by the Civil Air Support crew, saying: “Without Graham and Helen’s help back in 2020, we would not have been able to translocate any eagles that year, which would have been a major setback for the project. The fact that two of the eagles Graham and Helen transported that year have now reared the first white-tailed eagle chick in England for over two centuries is testament to the integral role they and Civil Air Support have played in the project.”

Civil Air Support has been working closely with Forestry England and the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation to support the project, making several flights during 2020, 2021 and more recently to sustain the effort. The charity has thanked Highland Aviation Services, Turweston Flight Centre and Bembridge Airport for their generosity and support.

With a further two territorial pairs of white-tailed eagles established on the South Coast and ten other younger eagles also getting established, conservationists are hopeful that the species will become a regular sight across coasts and wetlands of southern England.

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