BRITAIN' largest bird of brey has been spotted in the Hampshire countryside.

Birdwatchers have seen  a young white-tailed eagle, a species which has made an appearance only twice in the area in the past decade, in the New Forest.

According to the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, the UK’s largest bird of prey was last seen in the county in 2011 and 2008 - and before that there was a 60-year gap.

Also known as a sea eagle it was sighted at the trust’s reserve at Blashford Lakes last month, and again by the Shell Station on the A31 at Picket Post, which overlooks Roe Inclosure.

A Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust spokesperson said: “White-tailed eagles are a rare sighting in Hampshire, with only two previous sightings in the past 11 years.

“They’re an impressive sight to see, being the UK’s largest bird of prey with a wingspan of up to 2.2m (over 7 feet) – but are usually only found in Scotland where 40 pairs breed.

“We suspect that this juvenile bird is visiting from Scandinavia where there is a larger, more established, and expanding population.”

The species was persecuted to extinction, before being reintroduced to the UK on the Isle of Mull, off the west coast of Scotland, in the 1970s.

A spokesperson for bird watching website, Hampshire Going Birding, told the Echo: “The bird, although very large, spends large amounts of time sitting in tree and can be difficult to detect if it doesn’t fly.

“The last reported sighting was on January 11, but it may still be in the area.

“The bird is ringed but as yet we have not been able to trace its origin.

“It may well be a young bird from a breeding pair in the Netherlands, where species have been recovering its numbers.”

There have been discussions about introducing the eagle to the Isle of Wight

But concerns have been expressed by some of the south’s farmers, who say they fear the birds could attack their animals.