Eagles off – beyond our ken.


There have been rumours of this for quite a while but this news is very disappointing.

The account on the website is very apologetic and rightly so, I think, as this will feel like a let down for many supporters of the project. I have heard that as well as some local birders’ being uneasy there have been land-owning and shooting interests leaning on some members of the family on this issue. That might not be true, but it is the word on the street – several streets in fact.

I wonder what will happen as Isle of Wight birds continue to visit Ken Hill and get attached to it…?

Top predators are part of our natural ecology – it’s only because they were ripped away from us so long ago that the Brits have such suspicion of restoring a more natural ecology.

The scare stories about any reintroduction are pretty extreme, whether it be eagles or Beavers, and they happened back in the fairly distant past when Red Kites were brought back too. We should have more confidence in nature taking its course, and listen less to vested interests spreading scare stories. Fear of the unremembered holds us back very often in nature conservation.


17 Replies to “Eagles off – beyond our ken.”

  1. there have been land-owning and shooting interests leaning on some members of the family on this issue.

    I wonder what will happen as Isle of Wight birds continue to visit Ken Hill and get attached to it…?

    Answer precedes question. Bang-bang and bye-bye birdie.

  2. “There have been rumours of this for quite a while but this news is very disappointing.”

    There are further rumours which go w-a-y beyond the boundaries of Wild Ken Hill. If these rumours turn into legislative changes (which is what the rumours suggest) it would be extremely disappointing.

  3. As you say Mark this is very disappointing. How is it possible having come this far, with Natural England consent granted, that the project can be stopped?
    We seem to have vastly more than our fair share of little Englanders in this country (not Scotland or Wales). For God’s sake white tailed eagles are now expanding their populations in many European countries including Holland just across the North Sea and their impacts there are minimal if discernible at all.
    Who or whatever is behind this halting of this project I can only describe as despicable. Unfortunately once these projects are stopped they rarely resume. There needs to be a rapid reassessment of an alternative site for the release of WTEs on the East coast. What about the Blackwater Estuary on the Essex coast for example.
    What a shambles that this can happen. We have to stand up to and confront those who seem to hate nature so much and the restoration of our grossly depleted wildlife.

  4. Another suggestions for an alternative release site,, the RSPBs new and very large Wallasea Island Reserve on the Essex coast. The momentum for our wildlife restoration must not be allowed to stall.

  5. When this project was first mooted, I mentioned on here that I had strong doubts about the success of it since it was so close to Sandringham. Despite all the rubbish that they have been spouting recently, the royals simply wouldn’t countenance it near their land.

    We are up in Scotland at the moment and have visited both Argaty and Bamff along with other rewinding projects. The proof that the land can provide both income and jobs in a different way to the ‘traditional’ uses is here for all to see. These people are leading the way, sadly, the willingly blind will never see it.

    I have a cousin in Wales that still believes that a Kite can fly off with a newborn lamb. He knows this to be true because farmers have told him so. That the weight disparity alone makes this impossible, logic and science have no sway with ‘traditional’ thinking.

    Sadly if change is ever going to happen in a big way, it will be a very slow process while we wait for those with the old views simply to die out. This includes the royals.

    1. The Vincent Wildlife Trust produced videos of reactions to its Welsh pine marten translocation. The sheep farmers featured were absolutely shocking – I’m afraid it was difficult to avoid the thought sheep farming is bad for human brain cells. It’s certainly bad for wildlife and bloody terrible for some people who might like to keep their homes dry.

  6. Extremely disappointing. The fact the proposals got as far as they did shows some progress in attitudes towards larger predators, this withdrawal without clear explanation indicates that conservation to a large extent is still dictated by dirty goings on behind the scenes. The lesson seems to be that once they’re back the public want to keep them – wild boar in the Forest of Dean, beavers on the river Otter, the genie can’t be put back in the bottle. Rewilding is gathering pace and that’s without it being properly stressed there’s an awful lot of marginal farmland that’s a drain on public subsidies and it does far more to flood homes than produce food. There’s been a hell of a lot of hysterical anti rewilding guff on the Fieldsports Channel recently – they’re scared.

  7. Very disappointing, one assumes that the forces of ignorance, shooting, farming and reactionaries have made their views loudly felt. Difficult I know but they should be ignored.

  8. Particularly poignant as at the RSPB AGM this morning the RSPB Medal was presented to Roy Dennis for all his great work on restoring species.

  9. I am flabbergasted. This country is really run by too many conservative landowners and farmers (leaving aside for a moment those who are really doing good things and are by definition progressive) who have too many friends in high places. I hope this is not confirmation that the government has been making promises it does not intend to keep in the run up to the climate and biodiversity summits.

    See Peat Burning pledges
    see beaver discussions
    see white tailed eagle
    see tree planting
    see protecting 30 pc of land and sea
    see public money for public goods

    Nothing they promise can be considered to be in good faith until thay have been shown to deliver

  10. The royals are not doing much for the environment in the uk and the failure of this project on their back doorstep makes their pontifications on saving diversity abroad or on a global scale seem not only hollow and shallow but laughable.

  11. We need to try to find out exactly what is going on in this case. If it is farmers and those who shoot our wildlife for fun then it needs to be brought out into the open and the selfish vested interests that are driving this so called postponement, confronted. The public is fast becoming intolerant of privileged and vested interests driving decisions of this type. These selfish vested interests will be conquered in the end. It may take some time as this Westminster Government very much represents the privileged and the vested interests but those who support nature and wildlife and represent the far bigger majority.will win out in the end.

  12. im afraid im happy with the news
    surely its better to see or watch a natural bird than one thats been raised and released

    im old enough to have seen true red kites in wales in the 80’s, they were beautiful birds but now common i still enjoy seeing them but at the back of mind i cannot help but think “are they real”

    its a difficult position

    ive only ever seen one white tailed eagle over 20 years ago it looked majestic sat in the trees mobbed by starlings and crows

    life evolves and you move on, you cannot create the past in the modern world………..where next mammoths and mud huts

    such projects are just a cash cow

    for worse the world has changed

    1. Yes they absolutely are real. I struggle to understand what you find difficult about “the position”. The absence of white-tailed eagles, red kites, beavers, et al from our landscape is considerably more unnatural than the restored populations of these and other species are (or hopefully will be). Having these species back in our environment will allow ecosystems to function much more ‘naturally’ than was the case in their absence.
      I agree that with respect to nature the world has changed for the worse but reintroduction projects provide a tool to reverse some of that deterioration. With birds we might wait a very long time for recolonisation to occur by itself and with mammals we can obviously wait for ever. If we have the means to do so, it makes excellent sense to reintroduce the missing species.
      Your suggestion that the reintroduction of a few keystone species that have been eliminated from our countryside in relatively recent historical times should somehow lead us back to mud huts is just nonsense.

  13. White-tailed Eagles on the Isle of Wight, White Storks at Knepp; nice big, photogenic, media-friendly birds. If Wild Ken Hill have changed their minds on W-T E re-introduction, how about some cirl buntings instead? We could do with a few more and even the huntin’/shootin’ crowd aren’t going to shoot LBJs.

  14. Much of the comment in the media and elsewhere about the abandonment of the eagle introduction project in Norfolk seems to assume it has happened as a result of landowning and farming influence, which as far as I’m aware is speculation. There seems to be very little acknowledgement of serious conservation concerns playing a part.

    What is not speculation is that there are many Norfolk birders breathing a sigh of relief that the project appears to have been dropped. I would like to identify 4 relevant FACTS that don’t appear to have registered among those who believe that we must have apex predators at all costs, whether those costs are potentially devastating impacts on national and internationally important bird species, or alienating the support of those able to influence environmental outcomes over the majority of England’s farmed countryside.

    Key Facts.
    1 There is absolutely no evidence of former breeding of white-tailed eagles in East Anglia, despite their being regular and probably frequent winter visitors in the past.

    2 The feasibility study for the project actually cites the example of a Sandwich tern colony being deserted due to white-tailed eagles; it clearly does happen.

    3 The two North Norfolk Sandwich tern colonies on Blakeney Point and Scolt Head Island, which total over 6,000 pairs, are of international importance; they are amongst the largest in Europe and represent over a third of the UK’s breeding population. They are highly vulnerable to disturbance and predation.

    4 A recent Natural England report The State of the North Norfolk Coast describes the condition of the north Norfolk coast’s natural environment as ‘declining’, in particular due to the falling populations of important breeding shorebirds, notably little tern and ringed plover, attributable largely to disturbance. The north and east coasts of Norfolk support over a third of the UK’s population of little terns.

    The following people are strongly opposed to the introduction of white-tailed eagles into Norfolk, on conservation grounds at least; most are regionally and nationally recognised for their ornithological knowledge: Leo Batten, ex BTO, former ornithological adviser for The Nature Conservancy Council; Giles Dunmore, former editor of the Norfolk Bird and Mammal Report; Bill Makins, founder of the Pensthorpe reserve near Fakenham; Richard Millington, an editor of Birding World magazine; Richard Porter, previously Head of Species Protection at the RSPB, authority on Blakeney Point; Moss Taylor, joint author of The Birds of Norfolk, BTO regional rep. I have had a thirty year professional career in farmland conservation.

    Restoring ecosystems is about ensuring the lower tiers of the food chain are in good heart, and not about introducing into an impoverished and deteriorating environment, an apex predator that has never been present in the breeding season.

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