(Above & below) Russian Steppe eagle reunited with owner © Tony Bates
Members of Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) were greeted by an unexpected visitor when a Russian Steppe Eagle interrupted a wildlife walk on Upton Heath last Friday.
The giant bird of prey, which had a wingspan of over 4 feet, made its dramatic appearance after escaping from a falconer at a landfill site near Beacon Hill. The eagle, known as Storm, made national headlines several weeks ago when it once again escaped and flew into the living room of a Dorset resident in Upton Heath.
"It was an unbelievable surprise!"
DWT Urban and East Dorset Warden, Nigel Brooks said, “We were out on our ‘Walk with Nature’ at Upton Heath when out of nowhere this large, dark shadow appeared. We all scrambled to get our binoculars in focus, as this huge bird perched itself on a sand mound in front of us. It was an unbelievable surprise when we realised it was in fact a Russian Steppe Eagle!”
"It's not the sort of thing you see every day!"
DWT member and volunteer, Richard Agg said, “We actually went on the walk to look at all the reptiles and small insects that live on the heath, so it was a total shock to see such a big bird of prey. It was actually my wife Rosemary who first spotted it, and it was really interesting to be able to see such a fantastic bird in action. It’s not the sort of thing you see every day!”
After its foray onto the heath, the bird was eventually reunited with its falconer James Moore, who had been using it to scare off seagulls at the nearby SITA landfill site.
Russian Steppe Eagles originate from Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and have been known to grow up to 32 inches in height and can have a wingspan of up to 7 feet, making them rather a formidable bird of prey.
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Sally Welbourn at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.
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Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 25,000 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.
The Great Heath Living Landscape an Urban Living Landscape in Dorset will deliver the following exciting objectives:
- To provide enhanced opportunities for visitors and local residents to enjoy and learn about the area's fantastic natural heritage
- To improve physical access to local green space close to high density urban areas
- To develop relationships with local landowners in order to enhance conservation management of land in private ownership and to open up access to more greenspace in the area.
- To provide increased involvement and volunteering opportunities for people in a variety of wildlife habitats on the urban margin
- To improve access to the marine environment on the fringes of Poole Harbour to improve its conservation value and increase public awareness and enjoyment
Sites include land at Hampreston and High Mead Lane, Award Road, Ferndown Common, Delph Wood, Arrowsmith Copse, Dunyeats Hill, Corfe Lodge Road, Upton Heath, Beacon Hill, Cottage Farm (Happy Bottom), Ashington Paddock, Barrow Hill, Wimborne Road, Rushcombe Bottom, Parley Common, Tricketts Cross, Lytchett Bay and Holes Bay.
The full Great Heath Living Landscape project will cost will be £4.7 million, we have already secured £2 million and have been awarded £2.7 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund and need to raise further funds by public appeal.
The Great Heath Living Landscape is a partnership project involving Dorset Wildlife Trust, the Erica Trust, Poole Harbour Commissioners, Borough of Poole, Dorset County Council Countryside Service and Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust. The project is supported by Bournemouth Borough Council. Christchurch Borough Council, East Dorset District Council and Natural England.
Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported 36,000 projects with £6bn across the UK. For more information, please contact Katie Owen, HLF press office, on tel: 020 7591 6036/07973 613820.