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Bon Voyage — White-Tailed Eagle Soars To France

G818 was observed hunting wildfowl at du Marais de Sougéal (photo by Maude Bachet)

The White-tailed Eagle project has recorded a novel feat this week, with one of the birds soaring to France!

Since the start of the White-tailed Eagle project, which the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation runs in partnership with Forestry England, satellite tracking has shown how nomadic the young eagles can be prior to settling on a breeding territory.

Up until a few weeks ago G463 was the only one of the Isle of Wight eagles to cross the English Channel, but at the end of last month G818, a female that was released in 2021, having been translocated from the Isle of Lewis, followed suit.

She spent just over a fortnight wandering extensively in northern France.

Flight to France 

Although so far unpaired, G818 has been favouring the Avon valley on the Dorset-Hampshire border in recent months and has been regularly seen catching grey mullet in Christchurch Harbour.

On the morning of March 22 she left a favoured area and then flew south across the Isle of Wight, before spending the afternoon at RSPB Brading Marshes.

It is not uncommon for the young eagles to visit the Island, but they are usually seen off by the resident pair, G274 and G324, quite quickly and so it was no surprise when G818 crossed the Solent at 9am the following morning.

Once reaching mainland skies, G818 tracked east along the South Coast, passing over Brighton at 10am, Eastbourne half an hour later, and Hastings just before 11am.

At 12.13pm she was over the sea at St Margaret's Bay, just to the east of Dover, and while circling at 665 metres, would have been able to see the French coast at Calais.

She flew 35km (21 miles) across the English Channel in 30 minutes, with her altitude dropping from a high of 804 metres off the English coast to 255 metres as she made landfall west of Calais.

Once she reached France she headed south through des caps et Marais d’Opale Regional Natural Park and eventually roosted to the east of the market town of Desvres having flown 301km (187 miles) since leaving Brading Marshes that morning.


G818 at du Marais de Sougéal (photo by Maude Bachet)

Heading for home? 

G818 left the wetlands on April 1, initially heading south-east towards Le Mans, before turning to the north-east during the afternoon.

She flew 224km (139 miles) before roosting in woodland near Longny-les-Villages in the Perche Regional Natural Park.

It appeared from this significant flight and change of direction, that she might be beginning to head for home.

She moved a little further north the following day and then remained near Verneuil d’Avre et d’lton.

April 4 saw her make a more purposeful flight north, travelling 77km (48 miles) to the River Seine just to the west of Rouen in Normady.

She lingered beside the Seine all day on April 5, before moving 32 km (20 miles) north the following afternoon and roosting in the grounds of Château de Cany.

Next morning G818 left the Château and then followed the Normandy coast north-east, passing over Dieppe and eventually reaching Wissant just to the west of Calais that afternoon.

Conditions obviously weren’t conducive to a Channel crossing because she headed back inland, before roosting in an area she had first visited on March 23, after a day’s flight of 227km (141 miles).


G818’s explorations in France, with roost sites (and dates) shown by yellow icons

Next morning, on April 8, G818 flew back to the coast and then time headed out across the English Channel, 11 km south-west.

She took 27 minutes to make the crossing, arriving over Dover at an altitude of 109 metres.


G818’s English Channel crossings on 23rd March (easterly route) and return on April 8

She then continued north, stopping briefly on the Isle of Sheppey before heading west and skirting around the south side of London before roosting south of Oxted in Kent, having flown 196 km (122 miles) from northern France.

Over the course of the next three days she continued west through the South Downs, and then the New Forest, before arriving at a favoured location in the Avon valley on April 12.

She had flown a total of 2062 km (1281 miles) in 22 days. A remarkable flight for a young eagle learning her place in the world.


G818 returned to England on April 8, flying 196 km that day


G818 flew 2062 km in 22 days

Read more: New Video Shows Isle Of Wight's Key Role In Restoration Of Wight-Tailed Eagles

Thank you the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation for this update.

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