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Fri22nd Jan 2016

Star has been on the move over much of the winter with periods of some weeks when he settles down near one of the Midland’s loughs, a far cry from his former breeding site in south-west Connemara. As the map shows Star hasn’t been back ‘home’ to Connemara since September 2015. In late autumn, up to early-mid Oct 2015 Star was in the north-west flitting between Roscommon, east Mayo and north-east Galway (red track on map). On 12-13 Oct he made a brief trip north to Ballysadare Bay, Co. Sligo, an old stomping ground of his that he last visited back in the winter of 2009-2010! On 22 Oct he headed SE to Lough Ree then east to Lough Ennell/Owel on 25 Oct where he remained until 22-23 Nov, when he headed SE into Laois and Kildare before reaching one of his favourite haunts over the years, along the Arklow river near Woodenbridge, Co. Wicklow (green track). On 27 Nov he headed east over the Wicklow Mts to Pollaphuca/Blessington Lakes and back to the Midland’s lakes the next day.

Star remained in the Ennell-Owel area of Westmeath throughout Dec. Then on 28 Dec he began a mini trip of Midland bogs (sky blue track) with a visit to Clara, Co. Offaly, Rosenallis, Laois next day, Athy and Dunnstown, Co. Kildare on 30th and 31 Dec then back to the Midland lakes on the first day of 2016. On 5 Jan Star headed south into the Slieve Blooms hills, east into Laois and back to Co. Wicklow on 7 Jan to roost near the village of Redcross (dark blue track). On 10 Jan he headed NW over the mountains again to near Manor Kilbride then on to roost in a small bog just north of Prosperous, Kildare next day before returning to the Midland lakes.

On 16 Jan Star headed east to Lough Ree, then west on 21 Jan to the Corrib for the first time this winter, roosting near Moycullen (purple track). So is Star going to revisit his old territory in Connemara? Will he find a female to replace his lost mate? Watch this space....!! 

Star tracks 1 Oct-22 Jan 2016
Thu26th Feb 2015

Sad end to a beautiful bird. The remains of our much travelled 2011 release male White-tailed Eagle Ingar was recently recovered from in Fermanagh. Unfortunately not much was left by the time the bird was reported to us by the landowner who found the bird. Its GPS satellite transmitter had stopped transmitting in early Dec but we hoped it was still ok as the transmitter had intermittent due to low light levels. Remains were collected and removed by the PSNI who today issued this statement:

"The remains of a white-tailed Eagle were recovered in Fermanagh on Saturday, February 7th in the Newbridge Road area of Lisnaskea. Const. Maurice Blair said, “Many people may not be aware that these birds are present in Fermanagh and that they are a protected species. We are working to establish the circumstances. If you can help please call the 101 number, quoting reference 6467215. Alternatively information can be passed via the independent Crimestoppers number on 0800 555 111.”

Ingar was almost 4 years old and spent most of 2014 on Upper & Lower Lough Erne. He was named Ingar (Norwegian name) and was released in Killarney National Park, Co Kerry, in 2014 as part of the reintroduction programme for the species managed by the Golden Eagle Trust in partnership with the National Parks & Wildlife Service. Given a chance he would have nested on one of the many islands on Lough Erne. Although we dont know the cause of death illegal poisoning has been the greatest mortality factor in Ireland. We urge anyone with any knowledge of the circumstances leading to the death of this bird to contcat the PSNI


Ingar remains
Thu16th Oct 2014

Since she fledged from her nest on Lough Derg on 26 July, WTSE chick Aoibheall has been slowly expanding her range and exploring her environment. She made one trip 9 kilometres south-west to the edge of the Slieve Bernagh mountains in south-east Clare and more recently visited the Tipperary side of the lough. However she still seems keen to return to base most days near Mountshannon where her parents, Caimin (2008 red tag Y) and Saoirse (2009 green tag %) are still no doubt bring her fish. The 2013 chicks left the area on or around the end of September so it’ll be interesting to see how long she stays around. Maybe being an ‘only chick’ she will stay much of the winter, having no competition for food and parents who are still attentive.

Watch this space for more tales of Aoibheall’s movements and the other satellite-tagged WTSEsmiley

The map shows her movements based on satellite data transmitted via the Argos satellite system and is usually 1-3 days behind real time, depending on when it was downloaded.

Aoibheall sat data_13oct14
Wed8th Oct 2014

Aoibheall was hatched and reared in the wild in Ireland at a nest near Mountshannon in east Clare in 2014, only the third White-tailed Sea Eagle to fly from a nest in Ireland since the reintroduction programme began. Aoibheall is a young female, the only chick in her brood in 2014, and carries the number 2 on her wing tag (orange tag on the left and purple tag on right wing). She flew from the nest on 26 July at over 12 weeks old and over the next few months remained in the area of her nest site where she has been attended to and fed by her parents: 2008 red tag male Caimin and 2009 green tag female Saoirse. Caimin and Saoirse also nested in 2012 and 2013, rearing two chicks successfully in 2013. Both Caimin and Saoirse were hatched in nests on the island of Frøya, Norway, and were collected under licence and released in Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry.

According to folklore Aoibheall was a legendary Bean Sí (fairy woman) from East Clare who appeared to the High King Brian Ború on the eve of the Battle of Clontarf. Here is what the Clare Library website has to say about her:

"According to the author of the Cogaidh Gaeil re Gaill a supernatural female, Aoibheall of Craglea, near Killaloe, the legendary patroness or Badhb of the Dal Cais appeared to Brian Boru in his tent on the eve of the Battle of Clontarf to forewarn him of his death on the following day. Sean Mac Craith, the fifteenth-century chronicler of the wars of Turlough O'Brien, refers to another female - a washer of blood-stained clothes - who appeared at the most turbulent and life-threatening times in the life of his hero. Thomas Westropp found that belief in this tradition was still extant until well into the present century. A local legend in the Dysert area told how Aoibheall and twenty-five banshees washed blood-stained clothes in Rath Lake on the eve of the famous battle in 1318 at which Richard De Clare was killed, and that they still do so in times of crisis."

Aoibheall the White-tailed Sea Eagle can be followed on our website and on Facebook (Golden Eagle Trust). She carries a satellite transmitter that we hope will be able to track her movements over the next few years, hopefully right up to the time she herself starts to nest in the wild!

Because locations such as roosting and future nesting sites are sensitive to disturbance by humans we will be showing her general (daytime) movements only. Her satellite transmitter is solar powered so although we receive multiple GPS locations in summer, by mid-winter this is down to only two locations as the unit is programmed to do this to save battery power.

Slán agus beannacht leat a Aoibheall, go neirí an spéir leatJ

Aoibheall takes off
Tue4th Mar 2014

An opportunity to celebrate ‘Irishness’ and the environment in which it grew.

Exploring & Celebrating people’s interaction with the Irish Landscape over the last 10,000 years?



The year 2016 will be marked in some manner, as a notable milestone in this nation’s development.    We can presume that public monies will be used on activities, projects and events to mark the occasion, regardless of the broad spectrum of opinion regarding 1916.  This is a political reality.

The Government has already established a planning committee examining what should be done in 2016.  The perceived wisdom, amongst media commentators, is that the Government is anxious to avoid any overt political or nationalistic overtones that could spark any public disorder and damage the fragile peace process.

So this discussion paper, suggests one concept that could be discussed and explored before developing it, if it was deemed a worthwhile exercise.

The Concept

What might we celebrate in 2016? The Arts, Sporting, Cultural, Educational, Business and Community sectors will all have their own proposals.  But the Golden Eagle Trust propose the concept that we could celebrate how people on this unique island or landmass have developed a rich cultural heritage in close association with its environment and natural heritage, over the last 10,000 years, since humans first arrived on these shores.

We could explore, highlight and celebrate the hidden influences of our countryside on a wide array of cultural life.  These subtle influences, such as the climate, our coastal or island status, the type of food we grew or caught, our seasonal patterns, the woods, mountains, rivers and bogs all shaped our unique identity and lifestyles.

One can deliberately emphasis and celebrate the wide variety of influences that came to Ireland through waves of early and later peoples or through trading contacts across Europe and even as far afield as the Middle East, since the Bronze Age.

The influence of nature and the environment on our society, and equally the influence of society on our landscape, is sometimes hidden in Archaeological research or historical records.  These include Celtic, Norman, Viking, Anglo-Saxon, Latin, Gaelic and Ulster-Scots documents or oral traditions.  We could aim to add to our growing understanding of our rich (if slightly overlooked) cultural connection with our landscape.  This concept will not gain public or political support if it is focussed on the landscape itself.  Therefore it needs to be rooted in people and our evolving society.

We need to present this concept as an open invitation to all cultural and community groups to explore how their origins evolved in tandem with the landscape in which they were based.  We need to encourage other groups, to re-examine their ancient relationship with the landscape.  If our national population were magically removed and lived in France, New York or Turkey our shared culture would be quite ‘different’.  So we need to celebrate this small landmass in the North Atlantic and explore its influence, over Millennia, on our current cultural identity.

Why Bother?

Wildlife people are primarily engaged in improving our landscape through management, policy, education, planning, legislation and awareness.  But we often encounter pre-conceived negative attitudes, amongst key decision makers and the public, toward the environment.  So we recognise the difficulties in overcoming these attitudes amongst society and sectorial representatives.

If we try to develop this concept, beyond this deliberately vague initial outline, we will face at least two immediate queries;

1)       How relevant is this proposal to the respective goals of wildlife groups?

2)      How can we make this proposal relevant to Irish Society in general?

1)  Our shared goals are focussed on the current status of the environment and wildlife in Ireland.  We are aiming to improve the status or condition of our relevant targets.  But most of our goals are trying to restore or improve a landscape that has been shaped by previous human generations – sometimes in the distant past.  We cannot achieve our goals, normally, without public support and therefore we need to examine and understand this history before plotting an agreed future.

Many of us may not have the time, or see the immediate practical relevance, of exploring these issues.  But if students, academics, volunteers or community groups start to look at their environment with increased awareness we can all benefit from the increasing environmental and nature ‘lore’ or wisdom and bring it to a wider public audience.  We can either lead projects or assists others with same.  This has significant public and political awareness potential, which will in turn help our respective current management priorities.

2)  Community Groups, in particular, can become part of this landscape celebration.  Placenames, old maps and oral traditions can be brought to the fore and placed alongside several seminal books on the cultural traditions based around the environment and the academic works on the early Irish environmental laws (Brehon Laws) as outlined by Professor Fergus Kelly.  This can be used to enhance the pride and sense of place amongst local communities.  This need not be limited to rural communities. 

For example, the people of Clondalkin, West Dublin, could be encouraged to establish a small local native meadow to reflect the prefix in their local placename, ‘Clon’, which was translated from ‘‘Cluain’, which is Irish for meadow.  Basically, if we are imaginative, we can unleash a wide variety of small projects to celebrate or improve our landscape, if we can connect it to our human or cultural footprints.  This could have environmental, cultural and social benefits.


This brief outline, gives a flavour of a much more elaborate plan we could develop, in the autumn.  These ideas need not be the sole aspect or the leading aspect of the 2016 events.  But equally, could we suggest that we be as bold and as imaginative as possible.

The Gaelic revival in the late 19th century sparked renewed interest in the Irish language, Gaelic games and Irish Literature and theatre.  The rather unexpected Riverdance performance in the Eurovision song contest renewed interest in traditional dancing.  At some stage, we need a “step-change” in public attitudes to the Irish environment, landscape and nature.

In the current economic climate, the public and politicians will be looking for “added value” in any celebrations funded by the State.  A mere 14 years after the event, how many of the National Millennium Committee projects have had a lasting residue?

  • Could we establish an ancient farm and farm practices, from various periods, and manage an interesting array of wildlife in these habitats. 
  • Could we establish a national ancient wetland site with wet woodlands, bogs and reed beds? 

·         Could we replant trees in areas with pertinent wooded placenames? -see www.logainm.ie

  • Could we see a Brehon Law visitor centre outlining the rules of one of Europe’s most ancient environmental law tracts? 
  • Could we establish an Irish Placename Visitor Centre?  Just as our Diaspora have a keen interest in family genealogy, an Irish Placename Visitor  Centre could explain the meanings of townland names, so many of which are connected to habitats, animals, birds and trees.  Apart from family names, our Diaspora has the name of their original home/farm’s townland name etched in their family lore.

The idea of celebrating the influence of nature on Irish culture can be of real benefit to the Tourism and Agri-Food sector.  Both place so much of their foreign marketing and promotions on the Green image of Ireland.  The idea of celebrating the interaction of humans and the environment can also create local and social benefits and be elastic enough to accommodate a wide array of Irish society. 

Presumably, in 2016, we will celebrate this Nation or Country, in some manner.  A Country made up of dozens of separate groups of peoples who arrived here across the sea, since before the Iron Age.  These people shaped the environment and wildlife, where they settled and lived.  But crucially, these people and their culture were equally shaped or influenced by the same environment and wildlife of their new home.  

So this is a real opportunity to celebrate ‘Irishness’ and the environment in which it grew.

2016 Celebrations
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