Saturday 17 November 2012

When Sea Eagles lived in the New Forest

One of the 3 books which I bought at Hay-on-Wye recently was The New Forest Beautiful by F E Stevens, and dated around 1929.  I was reading it last night and in the final chapter, was absolutely astonished to read the following (he was referring to various lists of birds which had been made over the previous century):

"The eagles seem to have disappeared.  They were there in Gilpin's time (1724 - 1804), for he mentioned a pair which were for several years to be seen in King's Wood, and two were killed near Christchurch many years earlier.  Those particular specimens were not casual visitors, for in the shooting records of the second Earl of Malmesbury, it is mentioned that one of these had wrought great destruction among the wild-fowl and even among the hares.  These must have been monsters, for the record shows that when one settled on an oak to shake its feathers, even the tree shook.  It was a sea eagle, and a youngster, only two years old, but it weighed nine pounds, and had a breadth of 6 feet 6 inches, and a length of 3 feet 1 inch.

The Eagle Tree in the Forest is so named because it was upon a branch of it that an eagle - a sea eagle in that case too - was shot by a Forest keeper, but that was about a hundred years ago."

Can you imagine the absolute STORMS of twitchers descending  if one was spotted there today?

The chapter mentions Honey Buzzards as being quite common too, although Hawks were generally in decline (hardly surprising given the trigger-happy Keepers.


  1. Wow, a sea eagle, that must have been stunning.

  2. What a fantastic image of eagles there. I'd like to have seen it.

  3. Goodness, I had no idea there were once Sea Eagles here in the Forest!

    There are still Honey Buzzards in the summer, up at Acres Down, and common buzzards are everywhere ( our local family are often in the fields, looking for rabbits).

    I was thrilled to see a Hobby a couple of weeks ago. Beautiful birds and such a distinctive shape as they fly.

  4. Amazing - I didn't realise they were once found in the New Forest. Interesting except from what sounds a lovely book :)

  5. Lovely to think of them there, what is it with these keepers though, even a hundred years ago.