Earlier this year, a young pair of sea eagles landed at Blancart in West Flanders. At first it was thought to be a short visit: rest for a few days, eat a hearty meal and then move on. But a few months later, the couple, named Betty and Paul, were still there. Moreover, they chose a tree at the edge of the pond as a permanent sleeping place and started building a nest. Such a pair of breeding sea eagles is the first of its kind in our country.
look. Sea eagles build a nest in Blancart
In the spring, a pair of sea eagles settled in Blancart. Every morning you can see them when they go out hunting. They’ve been there for months. The sea eagles seemed to be doing so well at Blanchardt, that to their great surprise they decided to stay there. This means that they find enough food during the summer, because in the winter they have an abundance of prey. Thousands of white-fronted geese come from the north to spend the winter in Wadi Yusr.
This fall they even began building a nest in a willow tree on the inner edge of Blancart Pond to breed next spring. This is where they chased a pair of breeding hawks last spring. It seems a bit early for them to actually start building their nests, but that is not the case. The white-tailed eagle’s nest is a strong, large branch nest with an area of at least 1 square meter. Since they reuse it every year and keep expanding it, it should have a solid foundation. There are nests that can grow up to 2 square meters and weigh from half a ton to a ton
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If they do start breeding next year, it could be the first time in centuries. The first for Belgium and Blanchardt. The sea eagle is a migratory bird and is regularly seen here, but it has never built a nest before. At least there are no writings about it. However, regarding the specimens that were shot: in November 1934, a white-tailed eagle was shot near Blancart, just as it had been at De Panne in November 1950.
The white-tailed eagle only started breeding in the Netherlands in 2006, and is doing very well there. This year 36 pairs were counted there. The Blancarts are therefore suspected to have traveled here from Holland and found a suitable home here. Sea eagles choose wetland areas where waterfowl are abundant and always breed at the edge of fish-rich waters. In Blankaart they find what they need: peace, protection, food and a tree to build a nest. Critics initially claimed that the pair of sea eagles would leave soon because the habitat would be too small and the disturbance would be too great, but in the Netherlands they argue that sea eagles have an increasing tolerance towards human activities.
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European fish eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)
With a wingspan of 2 to 2.5 metres, the white-tailed eagle is one of the largest European birds of prey. With its strong, yellow hooked beak and impressive claws, it has an unforgettable appearance. Its huge, wood-like wings are very eye-catching and have earned it the nickname “flying door.” Adult birds have a short, white, wedge-shaped tail.
The sea eagle also thought of Blankart’s visitors. They don’t have to make any extra effort to enjoy the spectacle. The nest under construction can also be seen with the naked eye from the romantic arch bridge between Blancart Park and Blancart Pond and from a birdwatching hut and tower. Air transport of large branches can be observed mainly in the morning.
Since sea eagles are most sensitive to disturbance during nest building and the first reproductive stage, Natuurpunt calls on all photographers, bird watchers and hikers to avoid disturbing the bird and its environment as much as possible. Stay on the roads and trails and admire this mighty bird of prey with the naked eye, binoculars or telescope.
look. European sea eagles landing at Des Blancarts
The fact that a sea eagle wants to come and live in Blankaart is due to the many efforts made by volunteers and Natuurpunt in recent years to make Blankaart better in nature. With a nod to Blancart’s pioneers, the sea eagles were named Paul and Betty.
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