- 10-month-old White-tailed Sea Eagle named Chief has been welcomed to Robin Hill, a leading nature and visitor attraction set in 88-acres of rolling parkland on the Isle of Wight.
- White-tailed Sea Eagles were extinct 200 years ago and have a wingspan of 8ft making them the UK’s largest bird of prey.
- Chief will be trained by 22-year-old trainer Charlie Rolle – one of the UK’s youngest qualified falconers – as the park prepares to open after COVID-19 on 19 May.
- Book: https://robin-hill.com/
Thousands of visitors are set to flock to the Isle of Wight this summer to get a glimpse of the UK’s largest bird of prey, the extremely rare White-tailed Sea Eagle – a new arrival at Robin Hill, a nature and visitor park on the Isle of Wight.
After months of waiting, 10-month-old Chief has finally arrived on the Island for what the park hopes will be an incredible opportunity to educate visitors on the species that became extinct nearly 200 years ago, and provide a major draw to attract people back to the Island after the coronavirus pandemic.
Chief will join a team of over 30 birds looked after by 22-year-old Charlie Rolle, one of the Isle of Wight’s youngest qualified falconers. He will train Chief to fly and express his natural behaviours, so that the magnificent eagle will be ready to educate visitors upon re-opening 19 May in the park’s spectacular falconry displays.
Charlie Rolle, Falconer at Robin Hill said, “It has been my childhood dream to train a White-tailed Sea Eagle. It’s been a slow and steady journey to build a bond of trust with Chief, with his welfare of the upmost importance. It is my passion that time spent with animals and learning from them will help our visitors become more aware of the conservation of our fellow inhabitants and the environmental challenges they face. There is nothing more awe-inspiring than to see a bird of prey in action.”
- Why the name Chief? The team at Robin Hill believed as such a large, majestic bird, he needed a name worthy of his sense of seniority & superiority. One that was easily recognisable while characterful. A single syllable is also preferential from a falconer’s perspective, so the bird recognises its name quickly during training.
- Where did he come from? Chief arrived on the Isle of Wight with Charlie after a journey from the Scottish Eagle Centre.
- Appearance: Chief weighs 9.5lb and has a 7.5ft wingspan. He doesn’t yet have his ‘white tail’, which will grow as he gets older.
- Diet: Is predominantly fish, provided by the local Ventnor Haven Fishery.
- Training: Is a 1-to-1 process for Charlie and Chief to build a trusted bond, where Chief will slowly become accustomed to Charlie’s voice.
Interesting facts about the White-Tailed Sea Eagle
The White-tailed Sea Eagle is Britain’s largest bird of prey, with an 8ft wingspan. Native to the UK, they are a species of conservation concern. Once widespread along the whole of the South Coast of England, from Cornwall to Kent, they were driven to extinction by persecution that began in the Middle Ages and were extinct in the UK by the early 20th Century. The last pair to breed in southern England nested on Culver Cliff on the Isle of Wight in 1780, just a few miles from Robin Hill.
The species was successfully reintroduced to Scotland, where there are now more than 130 pairs. They have recently been reintroduced to Ireland and there is an ongoing reintroduction programme taking place on the Isle of Wight, that started in 2019, with 60 birds due to be released across a five-year period.
Adults are predominantly brown, with a pale head and white tail. In flight, the eagle has long broad wings, and a short wedge tail. They have a life expectancy of 40-50 years.
James Crofts, Park Manager at Robin Hill, said, “We are so excited to be reopening with a brand-new arrival that enhances our ability to educate and enthral visitors on rare and wild birds. Chief signifies our ongoing development of quality falconry experiences on site, and we hope that by getting up close and personal people will have more appreciation for the species overall.”
He continues: “We hope Chief will not only see a bumper reopening season for the attraction, but also support the Island’s post COVID recovery by providing a big draw for visitors this year.”
Robin Hill reopens to the public on 19 May 2021. Book tickets now at: https://robin-hill.com/