Thursday 13 December 2012


On the holiday weekend between 6th and 9th of December, 2012, a juvenile White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) was observed and photographed at Talaván Reservoir (Cáceres) by Julio Gutierrez. This is the first observation of this species in Extremadura, well away from former Spanish records, making the sighting even more interesting. Unfortunately were no further sightings during the following days, and although several people visited Talaván on the 10th and 11th, the eagle has not been seen again.

The White-tailed Eagle is a large raptor which is distributed throughout the temperate and aboreal regions of Eurasia. It is estimated that there are more than 10,000 pairs worldwide. In Europe it is limited to the north and east, but in the not too distant past it was also present in the Mediterranean. The last sightings date back to 1956 in Sardinia and Corsica 1968, 1975 and in 1983 in Algeria and Morocco. It was also suspected to have bred in the Peninsula and the Balearics. The European population is mainly resident, but some birds, especially immatures, move south during the winter (October to March). In parallel to the increase in the breeding population, observations in southern Europe are becoming more frequent. Thus, in the French Camargue usually about 20 birds winter.

In Spain this sighting is exceptionally far south. Multiple records are known from the 19th century, but only three from the 20th century: Castellón in 1944, Santoña (Cantabria) in 1944 and in 1953 in the Ebro Delta. The sighting at Santoña was first reported much later. In the 21th century there are at least eight records:

1 - Mallorca. December 2001-February 2002. Second winter bird. Accepted.
2 - Santoña (Cantabria). From 14/12/03 to 05/03/04. Immature. Accepted.
3 - Viana (Navarra). Ringed bird from Sweden. From 15 to 20/12/04 and unconfirmed sightings until February 2005, in Navarra, and in areas close in La Rioja and Treviño (Burgos). First winter bird . Accepted.
4 - Zudaire (Navarra). 28/12/2005. First winter bird . Accepted..
5 - Ordesa (Huesca). February 2007. In a feeding station for vultures. 1st or 2nd winter bird. Accepted.
6 - Aiguamolls de Empordà (Gerona). From 19/02/11 to 09/03/11. First winter bird. Pending acceptance.
7 - Carcastillo (Navarra). On a rubbish tip. From 03/01/12 to 08/01/12. Second winter bird. Pending acceptance.
8 - Talaván (Cáceres). From 6 to 9/12/12. First winter bird. Pending acceptance.

All observations have been in winter, between December and early March, and except for the Caceres bird, all have occurred in the northeast of the peninsular and the Balearic Islands, as shown on the map.

- De Juana, E. 2006. Aves raras de España. Lynx Edicions. Barcelona.
- Comité de Rarezas de SEO. Diversos informes. Ardeola.