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Sea eagles breed in the De Blankaart nature reserve: “A first for our country”


The two European sea eagles that settled in West Flanders last year have started breeding. “This is a first for our country,” says Guido Vandenbroucke, curator of De Blankaart.

Since their arrival last year in the West Flemish nature reserve De Blankaart near Woumen, the European sea eagles have been a major attraction for bird lovers from home and abroad.

“The female, Betty, has been on the nest since Thursday morning. We assume that there is already at least one egg, and we expect two eggs. Paul, the male, has already relieved her. It was quite acrobatic to see how they crawled over each other to keep the egg warm as quickly as possible. We are very happy.”

The Flemish Nature and Forests Agency has established a perimeter of 300 meters around the nest. Anyone who enters the perimeter, even with a drone, and damages the nest risks prison sentences of up to five years and fines of up to 500,000 euros. “These penalties are so high because the animal is so vulnerable and rare. In our nature this is now national pride. Incubation takes about 38 days.”

Waited for years

Earlier this week, an escaped bald eagle was captured nearby. “That is also good news,” says Vandenbroucke. “The bald eagle does not belong here and can disrupt the delicate breeding process. The European is of course very welcome here. We had been waiting for his arrival for years.”

After two years, Jasper Dujardin was able to catch the bald eagle.

For the curator, the nature reserve is an excellent habitat for the white-tailed eagle due to the presence of sufficient water, food, nesting and rest. The bird has hardly any natural enemies. “Contrary to popular belief, it is not bound to the sea.”

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