“Possible migrant Eagle Owl residing in Hunstanton Norfolk”

HUNSTANTON in Norfolk is probably better known for its gulls, fulmars and turnstones, than for owls, but it can now boast its very own eagle owl, know to local residents a Eddie. The owl has been seen on several rooftops to the north of the town centre. So far all enquiries have drawn a blank as to its possible local origin as it seems no eagle owls are missing in the area. The bird has no jesses or any other markings to show it may be an escapee.

It now seems possible that this eagle owl is on a working holiday from Scandinavia and is preying on the resort’s ducklings.

It appears curious that this is the third eagle owl which has turned up on the Norfolk coast in recent years leading to further speculation that eagle owls from the continent could have crossed the north sea into the UK. Certainly the owl photographed on a roof in Hunstanton had no passport and was not holding a European flag in its beak to confound the sceptics, so on that count the disbelievers will once again claim this owl is also escapee.

Foot Note:

Having now examined the images of this eagle owl it is clear the bird in question is not a European Eagle Owl. It appears most likely to be an Indian Eagle owl which unfortunately has either been released or has escaped.

30 comments to “Possible migrant Eagle Owl residing in Hunstanton Norfolk”

  • I have looked at the picture on Surfbirds and this is an Indian Eagle Owl not a European Eagle Owl so this owl has escaped or been released from captivity, it needs to be caught as in all probability it will be unable to hunt and will soon die, does anyone know if someone has reported losing one, the IBR are the people to contact in this case.

  • mark

    i’m watching this eagle owl being bombed by seagulls at this very moment

    • Colin Toule

      The eagle owl was last seen in a tree outside the Hunstanton Surgery a week ago. As surgery rules state it will not be allowed back until a fortnight has lapsed.

  • chrissie harper

    Mark what is happening with this owl, is anyone trying to catch it and are the authorities aware of it? this owl needs help.

  • Tim Allwood

    I thought you lot were experts?

    It’s an Indian Eagle Owl

    so no need for ‘disbelievers’ and all that guff.

    • Admin

      Hi Tim, until we had seen the images we just followed the information provided from Norfolk. Its the people on the ground in Norfolk who got their identification wrong.

  • birdboy

    It must of been an indian flag it was holding in its beak then.If it has no jesses then it must be a wild bird,(more wild than one of the bowland eagle owls, which did have jesses)maybe it has flown in from india!

  • OliR

    Saw the bird yesterday and seems more than capable of hunting! Had a pigeon in its talons while sitting on a roof, watched it for 45 minutes and seemed happy enough feeding away!

    • Admin

      Thanks for the update, please keep them coming in to us. Someone really needs to catch this bird as soon as possible. If its out for much longer it will only become more difficult to capture, and of course there is always the risk someone may take a pot shot. Not the best outcome.

  • paul williams

    should that read “birdbrain” not birdboy???

  • Andy

    Regardless of whether it was identified as European or Indian, surely the fact that it was hanging out on rooftops suggested it was an escape?

  • Linzi Crane


    I didn’t know much about Eagle Owls until I photographed ‘Eddie’ on a friends roof in Hunstanton on Monday. After reading some articles on the internet I’m now quite concerned for it’s welfare…..nobody in Hunstanton seems to be doing anything about him. It appears that there have been sightings in previous years which makes me think he could be wild. When I saw him he had been on the roof all morning and was getting abuse from a Starling but just seemed to be ignoring it…until he got hungry maybe?! He was gone the next day….if anybody wants to see my pictures to study him further please let me know. They’re close ups.

    • TerryPickford, North West Raptor Protection Group

      Hi Linzi, we know how you must be feeling. However this is an Indian eagle owl and therefore must have been either released or had escaped from where it was being kept recently. We doubt that this bird will have been in the wild for very long, otherwise it most certanly would not be perched on anyones roof; it is clear that at some point in the not too distant past it was use to humans. This bird needs catching up as soon as possible.

  • Bird Boy stop being so stupid it does you no favours at all, what is your problem? the Bowland Eagle Owls have never been seen with jesses on, in fact the illustrious Duncan Thomas told me on the telephone that they are believed to have been youngsters that came from the Yorkshire pair and they have been on Bowland since the early nineties, and before you question me I have friends on Bowland who go back a long way so know this to be a fact. Whatever your argument they are wild owls and as such should be left alone, I notice that you also do not want to write under your proper name so do not have the courage of your convictions.

    If you had read the comments properly then you would have seen that I had seen the pictures and identified the owl as an Indian Eagle Owl, why you had to bring the Bowland Eagle owls into the conversations baffles me. This owl is an escapee or has been deliberately released so it is about time someone did something about it.

  • birdboy

    Chrissie,i do not have a problem with the bowland eagle owls but the fact remains that the winter before the first eagle owl nest was found in the brennand valley(a failure as the eggs were taken),i walked to within five meters of a female eagle owl.At that distance the jesses were very easy to see but i backed off when she mantled at me.I reported this to the police, rang a local pub who i knew had pet eagle owls and contacted a number of falconer freinds but nobody had reported any escapees.I returned back to the area(quarter of a mile from the nest site) where i had seen the owl within half an hour,but she had gone.
    The reason i do not write under my proper name is because in bowland if you do not tow the line with certain people then you are subject to threats and therefore i would rather remain annoymous.

  • All of the eagle owls living wild in the UK have either been released or have escaped. All of the goshawks in the UK are either lost/escaped/released falconers birds, or the offspring thereof. Owls and hawks that have been kept in large enclosures will not be wearing anklets or jesses, or bells, but the absence of these does not make it a wild bird, nor a migrant.

    • Ann Cardwell


    • Mike Price

      I think its widely accepted that this is the case with Goshawk and it is reported to have happened sometime in the 1960’s.
      Any birds born in the wild there after are deemed as wild and have the full protection of the law.
      Lets not forget that Goshawk were persecuted to extinction in the UK in the first place
      These arguments are a thinly disguised attempt to justify the continuing war on raptors that has been unceasingly waged in some areas linked to game shooting.
      This and other smoke screens such as trying to rubbish every report ever made on the subject are becoming increasingly ineffective as more and more people realise what is going on.
      Now thats out of the way do you have an excuse for why they are still killing buzzards, hen harriers, short eared owls etc? or are they killing them just incase they get released by falconers in the future?
      The usual tactic of trying to muddy the waters by bringing up totally irrelevant facts that to your mind give some justification to the illegal activities going on, in OUR countryside

  • Paul williams

    Birdboy, We the members of the NWRPG know exactly how you feel regarding the subject of threats, EG a car being impounded by the police for no other reason except for caring the birds of prey and an elderly disabled resident who lives in the Dunsop Valley.

  • I couldn’t agree with you more Mike everything you say is true. Bird Boy I know just what is going on in Bowland so understand where you are coming from, never the less you cannot say that the Eagle owl you saw is one of the Dunsop pair, nobody can, I am glad to hear that you have no problem with them, nobody should have a problem with them they are doing no harm.
    Douglas your remarks are true of the many other blinkered people who neither seek to get their facts right or even care before they open their mouths, anyone reading your comments will get the same impression as myself. You cannot prove that these birds are not wild, neither at the present time can we prove they are but the facts are that they have been in the wild for many years and as such are now classed as wild. The vast majority of people who keep these birds will do anything to get their birds back should they lose them and in fact there are very hefty fines in place now should you lose an Eagle Owl, of course people who fly birds can lose one that is sod’s law but any decent person will get their bird back eventually, most owls will not survive in the wild anyway because they are imprinted to humans.
    As Mike states Goshawks, along with many other birds of prey were hunted to extinction, as were Eagle Owls, by humans, it would appear that many would like to repeat this all over again.

  • Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Richard Benyon MP at a function, the opening of a new entrance to a wonderful country park which is a haven for wildlife.

    He made a point of coming to talk to me and donated to my rescue and held Spook my Barn Owl, the look of pleasure on his face as he held Spook was very genuine.

    We spoke about the Eagle Owl situation and he told me quite happily that none of the evidence presented to him indicated in any way that the Eagle Owl was a threat to anything in this country at the present time, something we waited a long time to hear and also fought very hard for.

    I also spoke to him with regard to the sad treatment of the NWRPG because of their exposure of bad practice by some raptor workers, he suprised me by saying he knew something about it but he told me he would look into it and get back to me.

    He asked about the Eagle Owls on Bowland and I told him because of the NWRGP situation very little information was forthcoming and I was unable to report to the thousands of supporters in my groups which saddened me, he told me to stay in touch and he would find out what he could.

    I also told him that I had visited Bowland last year and heard the male Eagle Owl call to me, he agreed with me that Bowland is a beautiful place.

    I believe that Richard has a genuine love of wildlife and he certainly gave me some hope for the future, we must not forget that it is thanks to him that the Eagle Owls were not culled and that the very organisations that wanted this to happen did not present him with any evidence to support this dreadful thing, another waste of the tax payers hard earned cash.

  • Have i misread, or are some contributors suggesting that i, a bird of prey fanatic and falconer for over 35 years, would want to see the destruction of any eagle, hawk, falcon or owl, or harrier,buzzard, or kite? I have been actively protecting birds of prey since my early teens and will continue to do so, as long as i breath air.
    Since the early 1970’s, eagle owls have been bred in captivity in the UK. This species, along with barn owls, kestrels, and common buzzards proved so easy to produce that the prices dropped dramatically in a short space of time.
    They became popular as pets, but often only as 10 minute wonders until their owners became bored. Some were deliberately released, others were allowed to escape and were never pursued, the attitude being, “it can look after itself” which sometimes was true, and sometimes was not.
    Many, indeed most of these birds were hand reared in order to imprint them on humans to keep them tame and trainable.
    A good number were trained and entered at quarry with varying success, and of course many were and are used in flying displays.
    However an eagle owl that has been hand reared and imprinted is still quite capable of hunting, with or without the company of a human. Luck plays a big part in this, if the bird is lost/ released/ escapes, in a quiet country area where prey abounds, the odds of it surviving are quite high.
    The local police wildlife officer has called on me 4 times to capture EEO’s, 2 in 1 day (30 miles apart), and i caught 1 in front of a whole block of TV cameras. This was featured on all news bulletins, local and national, for 2 whole days.
    This bird had been living wild for several months, and was wearing anklets.
    Any reasonable person with knowledge of the facts, should be able to deduce that the EEO’s that are living and breeding in the UK at present, are far more likely to be derived from captive bred stock, than from natural migration, though absolute proof is not possible.

    The case of the goshawk is much easier to prove. This species was wiped out in the UK by gamekeepers. Both RSPB and BTO literature confirm this.
    However, being the standard hawk of falconry meant that they were regularly imported into Britain by both clubs and individuals. Some of these birds were lost, particularly in the days before telemetry, and despite the odds, some survived. One pair on the IOW were more often heard than seen, since they were wearing bells!
    It is also well documented that as goshawks became extinct in the UK, the continental populations were dwindling, so the chances of natural migration was small.

    Any impartial person that studied the facts would have to conclude that both gos and EEO’s have been successfully reintroduced into the UK by man, and long may they survive and thrive.

  • Douglas you seem to take great delight in boasting about your achievements to everyone, I have also worked with birds of prey for a great many years and get called out to rescue escaped birds of prey and also many wild injured ones, this is my job and unlike many including the RSPCA I do it quietly and to the best of my ability, I seek no reward or publicity whatsoever.

    No one is questioning what you say but as I said none of us can prove it either way, as a falconer you should know that most falconers have a great love for their birds and will do whatever they can to get them back if they go astray, there are, of course the others who as you say buy these birds on a whim and soon lose interest, people who breed these birds should be regulated and the sooner the better, I have an Eagle Owl that was bought for a nine year old boy by his parents as a pet, these wonderful birds are not a pet they are a lifetime commitment and this sort of thing disgusts me.

    I am also saddened by the fact that there are more Barn Owls in captivity than there are in the wild but what is being done about it nothing.

    As for your last sentence I am in full agreement with it, let these wonderful birds enjoy life in Britain and leave them in peace to do so.

    I now understand despite United Utilities wish to keep matters under wraps regarding the nesting pair of Eagle Owls in the Dunsop Valley this year, they have only two chicks in the nest as only two eggs were found in this years nest, sounds fishy!

    • Hi Chrissie, it appears that you and i have much in common. We both have a great love of birds of prey, and want them to thrive in our countryside. Furthermore, we both do our bit to capture errant BOP, and return them to their owners or find good caring homes for them, usually at some expense to ourselves.

      Like yourself, I prefer to go about my business quietly, it was the PWO whom contacted the national media, telling them that I was going to capture the bird that they (the media) had labelled “Britains most wanted”.

      Never in a million years did I expect to turn up and attempt to catch a bird that didn’t want to be caught, and find a media circus and hundreds of members of the public. Catching errant BOP, and indeed other species is hardly anything to boast about, since it has now become a daily event across the UK.

      I hope you now have a clearer picture of who I am, and realise that we both share the same passion for raptors, and wildlife in general, and that we both have the same goals.

  • DEAN

    On the subject of the current status of the Dunsop pair,admin are you in a position to give us any idea how other EO pairs in your area, or indeed elsewhere, are progressing this season?

    • Admin

      Sorry Dean we have no comment to make at all. we can confirm what Chrissie has already stated, the Dunsop Nest we are informed contains two owlets.

  • Douglas, yes we are very much alike and I welcome you as a protector of our wonderful raptors, we must all work together as there are many devious people out there who say one thing and mean another, I fought for the Eagle Owls and will continue to do so just as I will fight for the justice the NWRPG deserve, what is happening on UU land is disgraceful and it saddens me that I can get very little information now to give to the thousands of people who support my groups with regard to the Dunsop pair. I look forward to many more conversations with you on here and thank you.

  • Admin, United Utilities cannot keep too much under wraps as the Dunsop Eagle Owls are famous, are they not and very much in the public eye, but other things can be kept quiet, we don’t want a repeat of the disaster of last year so what they don’t know they can’t mess up can they?