It was German tourist and birdwatcher Rebekka Leiß who took the spectacular photos of the Serpent Eagle on Værøy.
He claims to have accidentally discovered an unknown bird of prey.
– My only plan for the day was to enjoy the sun and go to the top of Hane Hill to get a panoramic view of Værøy. I saw some kind of bird of prey flying over the mountain, so I decided to take a closer look and take some pictures.
She is glad she brought her binoculars on the trip in addition to her photography equipment.
Through binoculars, she was able to quickly determine that it was an eagle, but not common in northern latitudes.
– I don’t know what species it is. I took lots of pictures so I could identify the bird later.
– Very exciting
That same evening, she studied the pictures more closely and compared them to the bird book.
– My conclusion is that the bird looked like a snake eagle. But I don’t know if my identity is correct. So I contacted some friends who finally confirmed the identity of the bird.
I decided to contact Rebekka Leiß, the Norwegian Rarities Committee for Birds (NSKF).
– I confirmed very quickly that it was indeed a Serpent Eagle. Too exciting, says the German birdwatcher.
Snakes on the menu
Steve Baines, associated with the Roost Bird Station, says many have seen the rare visitor at the far end of Lofoten. Serpent vultures are also seen near the airport in Værøy’s neighboring municipality Røst.
There are about 40 kilometers between the two island municipalities.
According to Baines, snake eagles have been seen in Westfold and More and Romsdal in the past.
– This sighting is probably the northernmost recorded sighting of a Serpent Eagle in the world. Baines says it was exciting and completely unexpected.
Eagle expert Alv Ottar Folkestad has been researching sea eagles for over 40 years. He was there in the 1980s when a snake eagle was spotted in Møre and Romsdal.
– Snake vultures are very rare to see in Norway. In particular it has come as far north as Lofoten. He says it is special that such good films are shot in it.
The snake eagle eats snakes, lizards and lizards.
– 80 percent of food contains snake. There are no snakes or lizards in Værøy and Røst – not even a viper, says Steve Baines.
He thinks the eagle may have been trying to hunt mice.
– Serpent vultures are not known to take birds, so there is no danger to birds already nesting in Lofoten.
Stands motionless in the air
Bains says the snake eagle may be similar to the osprey. But unlike ospreys, which have thinner wings, it is more powerful and wider.
With a wingspan of up to 170 centimeters, it is slightly smaller than the sea eagle, which has a wingspan of 190 to 240 centimeters.
Snake eagles also have a special hunting technique. According to Baines, they stand motionless in the air while searching for prey.
How did it end up here?
The species breeds in southern and eastern Europe, north Africa and southwestern parts of Asia to India.
– How did the Serpent Eagle lose its way and end up at the end of Lofoten?
– The feathers may indicate that it is a young eagle. It may have been chased from a nesting area established in a nearby area. Then it may be looking for a new location, says Steve Baines.
Alve Otter Folkestad believes that the Serpent Eagle was carried north by warm air currents from the Mediterranean region. Maybe Spain.
– Birds of this species benefit from warm air currents from the south. That means faster traffic. At Mørekysten, several tall sailors have been seen in the past week, which he believes came the same way.
Steve Baines has opened up the possibility of flying from Eastern Europe to Poland, Finland, Sweden and Norway.
– It may have realized it was lost and headed south again. As you go south along the coast, Lofoten looks like a funnel, Baines says.
– If it rises a little above Værøy, it will be fine. It may have gone there to see if there were any snakes there. Instead it has returned with disappointment and returned in the same way. But it’s hard to say, Steve Baines says, and it’s just speculation.
Rebecca Lees has only one wish for a bird of prey that ends in Lofoten.
– I hope the eagle will return home.
“Music geek. Coffee lover. Devoted food scholar. Web buff. Passionate internet guru.”