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Giant eagle to fly over Eiffel Tower

Spectacular sight planned for centre of Paris as white-tailed sea eagle swoops down over crowds on the Trocadero

IF ANYONE spots a barn door flying over the Eiffel Tower on Sunday afternoon then there’s no need to be alarmed – you will be watching the first flight of a white-tailed sea eagle in France in 50 years.

The eagle, the largest in Europe and with a wingspan of more than two metres, will be released from the top of the tower to film Paris from a real bird’s eye view.

With a tiny 5cm camera mounted on his back, Victor the pygargue à queue blanche will swoop down over the watching crowds at the Trocadero to land on trainer Jacques-Olivier Travers’ outstretched arm.

That arm will be well protected with a heavy leather gauntlet as the sharp talons grow up to 4.6cm long.

White-tailed sea-eagles disappeared from France 50 years ago and Jacques-Olivier wants to reintroduce them in the wild. His demonstration in the Trocadero is to show that they are not a danger to people.

He raised Victor from hatching and has trained him to do normally incredible tasks – such as flying out of a helicopter to film a mountain or landing on Jacques-Olivier’s arm while flying in a microlight.

Victor’s flight over the Eiffel Tower is due to start on Sunday afternoon at 16.30 but anyone outside the capital can see the results on the www.rtl.fr website, which is sponsoring the event.

* This month’s Connexion - which has just arrived in the shops - features another birdman: Christian Moullec, the man who has become an “honorary Mother Goose” as he flies with his own skein of geese. It also has features on identifying the birds in your garden and what to feed them.

If Connexion is not in your local shop, you can buy the October issue as a downloadable pdf for €3.50 here on the back issues page.

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