London (change)
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03/02/2014 at 15:41

I was just taking a break after planting a load of shrubs when across the middle of my garden flew the biggest bird other than a seagull I've ever seed close up. It was so surreal. It took me a second to comprehend that I was NOT watching it on TV! Oh my gariboldis I've just seen an eagle! I thought. It really did look like an eagle, big, but not meters across, chocolate brown with a white patch on the base of it's tale. I was so stunned I didn't even jump out of my chair to see it fly away behind the trees. I think this is probably what I saw, but the head was very much like an eagle and the colouring seemed much more sold brown and white more prominent. But I was in shock!

Hen Harrier





03/02/2014 at 16:22

Hi Jim, I would suggest you make a detailed report to either the BTO or the RSPB. Giving time, weather and location. They will be able to tell you what you saw and if it is a Hen Harrier they can record it. Hope that helps

03/02/2014 at 16:30

That white bar says hen harrier to me.

03/02/2014 at 17:00

Could be a Buzzard?  Was it flying high across open land?

03/02/2014 at 18:48
B Karen wrote (see)

Could be a Buzzard?  Was it flying high across open land?

No, no more than 10' over my garden, looking for food no doubt. It just moved so slowly and effortlessly, not a flap, not a ruffle of a feather, just looked about as it swooped past, then behind a tree and away. I was completely mesmerised.  I've looked through page after page of photos and the closes thing to what it looked like is this.


 I know that sounds ludicrous that a Golden Eagle flew over my garden in Durham but nothing else really fits the bill plumage-wise and my first thought was it was like watching a western on TV. the colour of this is spot on. The size makes me doubt it was actually and Eagle though, but it was side on to me and it had its wings swept back, not in a dive but something between a dive and glide. 

Thanks for your suggestions everyone. Just looked at the site I got the first photo from again. I think the female Hen Harrier is the most likely suggestion. 

04/02/2014 at 08:42

Jim - so exciting - it really does sound as if you saw a Hen Harrier - we occasionally see them in Suffolk - wonderful birds.  Yours may possibly have been moving northwards towards their breeding grounds on the grouse moors - a little early in the year for this to be happening, but it's an odd year!

Please report your sighting to the RSPB - Hen Harriers are such an endangered bird it's important that they keep track of as many as possible 

04/02/2014 at 14:14

Thanks for that Dove, I tried regiestering the sighting yesterday but couldn't find the link. I was so excited I phoned my partner at work and rabbited on for five minutes about it then got an nervous laugh, 'Jim, I've got the auditors with me.' They were very understanding.

04/02/2014 at 14:27


You'd have been in no doubt if it had been an eagle. They are HUGE! I love all birds of prey. Buzzards are really common here but it still thrills me when I see them.

04/02/2014 at 14:42

The white-tailed eagle is the largest UK bird of prey. It has brown body plumage with a conspicuously pale head and neck which can be almost white in older birds, and the tail feathers of adults are white. In flight it has massive long, broad wings with 'fingered' ends. Its head protrudes and it has a short, wedge-shaped tail. It went extinct in the UK during the early 20th century, due to illegal killing, and the present population has been reintroduced.

04/02/2014 at 14:50
04/02/2014 at 15:03
04/02/2014 at 15:27

Jim, do you know this website?

I record kestrels on their site, and get e-letters and info etc. 

04/02/2014 at 17:42

Hi Dove,

No, I didn't I'll do that too. We don't get Kestrels in the garden but do get a male and female sparrow hawk in very regularly, there's always a pile of feathers somewhere. The bird feeder has more than one meaning here. 

I'm glad my dogs are big Jack Russles though.

04/02/2014 at 18:08

Clueless Gardener and Fariy Gilrl, thanks. I know what you mean FG. I did only see it from the side and it had its wings pulled back. It was a big bird but because it was in profile I couldn't really gauge exactly how big, just nose to tail. I'd really not wish it to be an eagle but however I feel won't change what it was or wasn't it's really only my curiosity that I want to satisfy. But how great an achievement for Durham Wildlife Trust would it be if it really were an eagle? I'm pretty sure it wasn't a sea eagle though, they've got beaks like Dodo's.

Seing this photo though makes me feel more accepting that it was an eagle

The wings weren't in a very different position to this either. Its legs were tucked up so I didn't see them. Looking at the Hen Harriers I can't help feeling they look too small. And it doesn't have to have been a wild bird or/and it could have been swept well away from home with all the bad weather we had. 


04/02/2014 at 19:04

The occasional eagle visits from the nearby Paradise Park.  Hugely impressive aren't they?  Apparently they don't fly too far. 

04/02/2014 at 19:33

I know what you mean about curiosity Jim. Just nice to know what it is. The big difference with eagles in flight is the wingspan but it'd be hard to gauge if you don't have another bird to compare it with at the time. Perhaps you'll get another chance to see it. 

04/02/2014 at 19:54

If it was larger than a harrier could it have been a buzzard ?

They're a pretty impressive bird, people do mistake them for golden eagles - but a golden eagle's wingspan is around two metres - pretty much like having a light plane overhead! 

04/02/2014 at 20:57

That's very exciting Jim, birds of prey are so beautiful

04/02/2014 at 21:34

Hi hollie - how is the new house/garden? 

04/02/2014 at 22:23

Hi Fairygirl, it's all good Windy and very wet, but I love it!

1 to 20 of 26 messages