Sea eagles controlling cormorant numbers in Europe


by Dominic Garnett |
Updated on

WITH cormorants “now more frequent and widespread in Europe than at any time in the last 150 years” according to the EU Commission, anglers are welcoming the resurgence of their greatest natural predator.

Recent studies show that the white-tailed eagle, often better known as the sea eagle, is terrorising colonies of nesting birds in Northern Europe, and are heading this way in ever growing numbers.

Adult White-tailed eagle in flight. Isolated on White background. Scientific name: Haliaeetus albicilla, also known as the ern, erne, gray eagle, Eurasian sea eagle and white-tailed sea-eagle.; Shutterstock ID 1212847261; purchase_order: -; job: -; client: -

Across Germany and Scandinavia’s Baltic Sea, in particular, eagle numbers are not only increasing, but putting claw marks in cormorant colonies, according to Finland’s Environment Institute.

And with many birds migrating south every winter to UK waters, that could be good news for Britain’s fish stocks in the long run.

Cormorants wreak havoc on UK fish stocks

“The White-tailed Eagle can eat both Great Cormorant eggs and offspring, and also steal fish caught by cormorants. In addition, the eagles scare adult cormorants from their nests, exposing eggs and offspring to predatory gulls and crows,” said a representative from the Finnish authorities.

Sea Eagles could also return to former strongholds in Britain, with limited numbers already found in Scotland and reintroductions now being trialled on the Isle of Wight.

Harry Martin, who took the dramatic image shown below, has been in awe of these birds for years on the Isle of Skye, where he hosts photography days. "Just this week I saw a sea eagle flying with what looked like a sea bird in its talons. They'll handle big prey! They would once have been a lot more widespread in the British Isles- including further south, too."

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A Sea Eagle takes a cormorant (Harry Martin)
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