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Tue1st May 2018

The 2017 breeding season delivered some excellent news for the three native birds of prey that have been released and reintroduced into Ireland in recent decades.  The Golden Eagle Trust (GET) was established in 1999 to try to restore and enhance our island’s native wildlife.  As a wildlife charity, the GET spearheaded the return of Golden Eagles, White-tailed Eagles and Red kites in partnership with the National Parks and Wildlife Service and with vital support from the Heritage Council, The National Millennium Committee, Údarás na Gaeltachta and KPMG during the decades.

Numerous rural communities, such as Avoca, Mountshannon and Dunlewey, have welcomed the arrival of their local Eagles and Kites, which have enhanced the richness of their place and people.  The understandable anxiety, at the outset of these three reintroduction programmes, has largely evaporated as these wild birds gradually became part of the local landscapes.  The Golden Eagle Trust and National Parks & Wildlife Service would like to publically acknowledge the support of many individuals, volunteers, landowners, farmers, foresters, fishermen, ferrymen, ramblers and boating enthusiasts for their support and protection of territorial eagles and kites.  The encouraging breeding outcomes for these 3 species of native birds of prey, this season, reflects that widening community support and involvement.

The small Golden Eagle population in County Donegal had a memorable breeding season in 2017, as three separate pairs fledged a single chick each.  For the first time in a century, an Irish-bred Golden Eagle has bred successfully. The mother was born in Glenveagh and has paired with a Scottish - bred eagle, released as part of the reintroduction. 

Golden Eagle pairs can now be found in the Derryveagh and Bluestack Mountains and the Glencolumbkille and Inishowen Peninsulas.  Whilst this fragile population is still confined to County Donegal, the addition of three healthy juveniles to a small population total of 20-25 birds, is a very welcome boost.

Seven White-tailed Eagle chicks fledged from five nests in counties Kerry, Clare and Galway, in 2017, continuing the positive trend in the number of young fledged in the wild in Ireland, since the reintroduction of this once extinct eagle began in 2007. In total, nine pairs nested and laid eggs in 2017, with five of these pairs rearing chicks. Four pairs failed after laying eggs.

This brings the total of White-tailed Eagle chicks fledged successfully in the wild in Ireland to 21, since the first successful nesting on Lough Derg, near Mountshannon, Co. Clare, in 2013. Breeding pairs were found in Counties Cork, Kerry, Clare and Galway and territorial activity, by a young pair, was noted in Leinster.  The increase in the number of pairs fledging young and the number of chicks being produced is encouraging.  Although, we are some way yet from achieving the ultimate goal of the reintroduction project: a viable, self-sustaining breeding population. Over the coming years, it is hoped that the small breeding population will increase to fledge 10 chicks or more annually. While the number of breeding pairs remain small (up to 10), it is hoped that these numbers will be boosted in the next few years by wild-bred Irish eagles becoming mature and breeding for the first time themselves. This would be an important milestone for the project and would go some way towards securing the success of the reintroduction.

The Red Kite project along the east coast continues to go from strength to strength.  More than 80 pairs of kites were recorded and they produced more than 60 young in 2017.  When combined with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds’ restoration programme in County Down, it means that more than 100 pairs of kites are now established across the island of Ireland. 

The Red Kites have been quickly integrated into the community fabric across its range and groups of kites, in flight or at communal roosts, are now a spectacle to behold, at all times of the year, particularly in many towns and villages in County Wicklow. 

Kites in the Wicklow release area are gradually spreading out along the southern, northern and western parts of their range, which now stretches from Gorey, Wexford in the south to Roundwood in the north and from the coastal fringe to the Wicklow Mountains in the west.  The Fingal Red Kite population was boosted again this year with two successful pairs, which produced five young between them.   The Golden Eagle Trust remains buoyant about the prospects of the Red Kite in Ireland with the continued growth and expansion of the population. 

The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan T.D., said, “I am delighted with the very positive news from the eagle reintroduction projects in 2017.  In particular, the arrival of the first second generation Irish-bred Golden Eagle is a landmark and I hope this will be the start of better fortune for the Golden Eagles in the northwest. I want to thank the volunteers and staff in the Golden Eagle Trust for their work on this project which my Department continues to support.

Ronan Hannigan (Chairperson, Golden Eagle Trust) said, “20 years ago people in Ireland rarely spoke about Eagles and Kites.  Irish people still do not enthuse about Ospreys or Cranes – other extinct Irish birds.  Imagine if Irish children never speak about Curlew or Corncrake, in 30 years’ time?

Ronan added, “As we celebrate the gradual return of Eagles and Kites to Ireland, we are painfully aware of the decline in the numbers of Curlew, Corncrake and Hen Harrier and applaud the national efforts to stem these losses.  All these birds are part of our intertwined Natural and Cultural Heritage and can be part of our legacy to future generations”.

In summary, we can now say that Ireland has Eagles establishing territories in Munster, Ulster, Connaught and Leinster and that Kites have a strong foothold on the East coast, including Counties Wicklow, Wexford, Dublin and Meath.                                                                                


Additional Notes

Website: www.goldeneagletrust.org

White-tailed Sea Eagles

We are thrilled that pairs of white-tailed sea eagles are now breeding annually across the west of Ireland from West Cork to Connemara” said Dr. Allan Mee, Project Manager of the White-tailed Eagle Reintroduction. “It’s fantastic to see another seven Irish-bred White-tailed Eagle chicks fly from nests in Ireland this year”. “These young eagles represent the first of what we hope are many more Irish bred White-tailed Eagles to fledge from nests over the next few years to form the basis of a viable self-sustaining Irish population. The signs are good that we can achieve this with eight or more pairs likely to breed annually over the next few years. Eagles are now nesting again in some of our most iconic scenic and cultural landscapes such as near Holy Island (Inis Cealtra) on Lough Derg, the Killarney lakes, Glengarriff and on the western tip of the Iveragh peninsula in Kerry, where they would have nested in historical times, perhaps even on the same islands used back in the 18th and 19th centuries. It’s wonderful to see these birds back where they belong, nesting and rearing chicks”. 

An excellent Viewing & Information Point was again provided at Mountshannon thanks to funding from Clare County Council with visitors coming to see the local White-tailed Eagle pair. Eagles are also attracting many visitors to the Lakes of Killarney, the Iveragh and Beara peninsulas, Portumna, West Cork and other parts of the west coast where they are now established; enhancing the biodiversity and natural attraction of some of our most iconic landscapes.

The Irish White-tailed Sea Eagle Reintroduction Programme is a long-term initiative to re-establish a population of this extinct species in the Republic of Ireland managed by the Golden Eagle Trust in partnership with the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Releases of birds have taken place every year for five years (2007-2011) in Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry. Dependent on maintaining survivorship within parameters derived from the reintroduced Scottish population this number should be sufficient to re-establish a viable self-sustaining breeding population in Ireland. As Sea Eagles breed at about five years old it was expected that the first Irish nesting attempts would be in 2012/2013. In 2012 the first nesting attempt occurred in Co. Clare, the first breeding in the wild in over 100 years.  In 2013, the first wild-bred chicks fledged successfully from a nest in Co. Clare.


  • The White-tailed Eagle, Golden Eagle, and Red Kite Reintroduction Projects in the Republic of Ireland are managed by the Golden Eagle Trust in partnership with the National Parks & Wildlife Service of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
  • White-tailed Eagle chicks were collected under licence in Norway and transported to Ireland for release. One hundred young White-tailed Eagles were released between 2007 and 2011 in Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry. To date 32 birds have been recovered dead.
  • In 2017 ten White-tailed Eagle pairs held territory in Ireland across four counties: Kerry (6 pairs), Galway (2), Clare (1) and Cork (1).
  • Nine pairs laid eggs in Kerry (6), Cork (1), Clare (1) and Galway (1).
  • 21 Irish-bred White-tailed Eagle chicks have fledged to date: 2 in 2013, 1 in 2014, 4 in 2015, 7 in 2016 and 2017.


  • 119 Red Kites, imported from Wales, were released in County Wicklow from 2007 to 2011.  39 Welsh kites were released in Fingal in 2011.
  • Red Kites can breed at two years of age, unlike both species of eagle, which tend to first breed at 4-6 years of age.
  • The Department of Agriculture established the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU) in 2013 and we wish to acknowledge all the effort that they and landowners have invested in minimising the impact of rodenticides on birds such as Red Kites, Barn Owls and Kestrels.
  • A recent detailed study of the food remains at Red Kites nests in County Wicklow found that Rooks, Rabbit, Woodpigeon, Magpie and Brown Rat were the most commonly found species in prey remains, during the breeding season.


  • 15 wild bred Golden Eagles have been reared in County Donegal since the first successful breeding in 2007.
  • 63 Golden Eagles, collected under licence from wild nests in Scotland, were imported and released in Glenveagh National Park, between 2001-2012.
  • The longest established pair of breeding Golden Eagles in Donegal failed to breed in 2017.  It is suspected that the female died naturally – she was 17 years old.  Research suggests that Golden Eagles, in the wild generally, live 16-20 years.


Points of Contact for the Media:

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Press and Information Office
Tel: 087 673 7338 / (01) 631 3803 / 3807 / 3838 / 3848 / 3909 (direct)
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Website: www.chg.gov.ie Twitter: @Depth

White-tailed Sea Eagle Contact
Dr. Allan Mee, Golden Eagle Trust,
Tel: 087 3117608
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Red Kite Contact
Dr. Marc Ruddock
Mobile 087 3578590
Email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Golden Eagle Contact and Golden Eagle Trust General Manager;
Lorcan O Toole
Mobile 087 1310177
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Key Irish raptors enjoy fair winds during the 2017 breeding season
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
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