Returning home

The satellite tracking work that we have undertaken during the first three years of the Isle of Wight project, which we run in partnership with Forestry England, has provided a fascinating insight into the dispersal of young White-tailed Eagles. This has shown that many of the young birds explore widely in their early years before returning to the South Coast as they approach breeding age.  One of the most notable examples last year was G466, a female that was released on the Isle of Wight in 2020. She flew to northern Scotland during spring 2021 and then spent six months in Caithness and Sutherland where she favoured Loch Naver and also Cape Wrath, the most north-westerly point in mainland Britain. She subsequently spent time in the Cairngorms, Loch Rannoch and the Kintyre peninsula before heading south on 4th February. 

She arrived back on the Isle of Wight on 22nd February having flown south through western England over the course of two-and-a-half weeks. 

Once back on the South Coast G466 remained on the Isle of Wight and neighbouring areas until 5th April, when she headed north once again. She arrived back in Caithness on 17th April; just two days later than the previous year. She remained into September, returning to all of the areas she had favoured during 2021 over the course of the next five months. The map below shows the similarity in her movements over the course of the two summers. At times she was joined by two other Isle of Wight birds, 2021 females G542 and G547. 

G466’s movements in northern Scotland during 2021 (white) and 2022 (yellow)

Having spent five months in northern Scotland, G466 began heading south again on 22nd September, and this time with real purpose, arriving on the South Coast on 28th September and the Isle of Wight the next morning, having flown 1003km in seven days. 

G466 flew 1003km back to the Isle of Wight between 22nd-28th September
G466 in the early morning mist on the Isle of Wight after her return from Scotland (photo by Steve Egerton-Read)

Having arrived back on the Isle of Wight G466 intruded at the now well-established territory of G274 and G324 who are resident on the Isle of Wight and rarely let other birds settle for any length of time. Project Officer Steve Egerton-Read photographed G466 in the company of male G274 for a short period, before she was seen off by resident female G324. Such encounters are important for young eagles as they settle in potential breeding areas because the presence of other eagles on territory is a real draw. 

G466 (left) perched briefly with three year-old male, G274, before being seen off by the resident female, G324 (photo by Steve Egerton-Read)

It will be fascinating to see what G466 does now. Will she remain on the South Coast and search for a mate, or return north once again? We will keep you updated. 

G466’s movements since her initial dispersal away from the Isle of Wight in March 2021