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 four 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.
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!”
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.