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Tue2nd Jun 2015

White-tailed Eagles have successfully hatched chicks across four counties in Ireland. Eight pairs of White-tailed Eagles have nested and laid eggs with five nests successfully hatching chicks in counties Clare, Cork, Galway and Kerry. In the last few weeks’ chicks hatched in nests on Lough Derg at Mountshannon, Co. Clare, at Glengarriff in West Cork, and in Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry. Pairs also successfully hatched chicks at a nest in Co. Galway for the first time and at another site in Kerry. Three other pairs nesting in Kerry failed to hatch successfully. Interestingly two of these “pairs” were made up of trios: two males and a single female at one site and two females and a male at another, both in Kerry! 

The first nest to hatch young in 2015 was at Glengarriff, Co. Cork, in mid-April with fledging (its first flight) expected in early July (11-12 weeks old). Later in April a pair was confirmed to have hatched chicks at their usual nest site on Lough Derg, near Mountshannon, Co Clare. This pair created history in 2013 when they reared the first chicks to fly from a nest in Ireland in over 100 years. The pair also reared the only chick to successfully fledge from a nest in 2014. The pair resident on the Lakes of Killarney in Killarney National Park hatched a chick in early May. Encouragingly two other pairs, one in Galway and another in Kerry both hatched chicks for the first time.

Hopes are high that the five successful pairs will successfully raise chicks that will go on to form the basis of a viable population in Ireland. This would potentially be the first White-tailed Eagle chicks to fledge successfully in Kerry, Cork and Galway, Clare already having been successful in 2013 and 2014. These are the latest chicks of the high profile reintroduction programme which began in 2007 with the release of 100 young Norwegian eagles in Killarney National Park as part of the White-tailed Eagle Reintroduction Programme managed by the Golden Eagle Trust in partnership with the National Parks & Wildlife Service.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys commented It is great news that white tailed eagle chicks have been successfully hatched across four counties. This is a considerable boost for the reintroduction programme and it is a very positive sign for the recovery of the species here. The white tailed eagle is an iconic bird, which is very popular in local communities and of course attracts interest from visitors. I would like to commend the ongoing work of those involved in the reintroduction programme and acknowledge the strong support from local communities and landowners who are helping to make it a success.”

We are delighted that White-tailed Eagles are now nesting and hatching chicks successfully for the first time across four counties”, said Dr. Allan Mee, project manager for the Golden Eagle Trust. “In 2013 we had our first chicks reared in the wild in Clare but this year we are excited to see that pairs are nesting as far away as Galway, although Kerry remains the stronghold for the species.  The increase in the number of successful pairs is encouraging and bodes well for the species recovery in Ireland. Ultimately the viability of the reintroduced programme depends on these chicks going on to breed themselves in Ireland. Each step brings us closer to that goal. Many people have helped us reach this goal over the years. We especially wish to thank local communities in Mountshannon and Whitegate, Co. Clare, Glengarriff, Co. Cork, in Killarney and elsewhere in Kerry, and in Galway for their goodwill and continued support. The eagles have benefitted from the support of local communities and landowners, and their presence has the potential to enhance the rural economies of these areas, especially through wildlife tourism.”

News of the hatching has been greeted with excitement locally in East Clare. John Kavanagh, Chairman of Mountshannon Community Council said “We are delighted that this pair of eagles has made its home here near Mountshannon for the fourth year in a row. These birds made history in 2013 by being the first to raise chicks successfully in Ireland in some 100 years. Everything has gone to plan for the pair again this year having hatched a single chick. The eagles have become a focal point for the community and have attracted visitors from all over Ireland and beyond. Thanks to the vital support of Clare County Council who have again provided the Bird Information & Viewing Point on the pier we are again able to welcome eagle lovers to Mountshannon. Last year saw almost 10,000 people visit the site to see the nesting pair between July and September so it’s clear people are hearing about the birds and coming to Mountshannon to see them. We would ask everyone to respect all our wildlife and give these magnificent birds a chance to nest and their young to survive to breed in the future.”

Vera O’Rourke spoke on behalf of the Mountshannon Eagle Group “We are really pleased that the eagle pair “Caimin and Saoirse” has successfully hatched again this year on an Island close to Mountshannon for the third year in a row.  It’s great news for the whole of the Lough Derg area. We thank everyone for their cooperation in helping to protect these birds and their nesting area. We ask that people keep their distance from the nesting Island to give these magnificent birds of prey every chance to rare their chicks. Remember you don’t have to go out on the lake to view the eagles. A specially constructed Bird Viewing and Information Point (BVIP) supplied by the Clare County Council is opened at Mountshannon Harbour from where people can view the eagles through telescopes that are in place within the unit. The BVIP is opened and run daily by Information Assistants from whom visitors will get up to the minute information on the activities of the Eagles”.

The news of hatching eagles has also been greeted with delight in West Cork. Local Conservation Ranger Clare Heardman has been watching the pair’s progress closely since nesting began. It has been an incredible experience watching the eagles in Glengarriff working towards what will hopefully be their first breeding success, having lost a chick at two weeks old in 2014 due to bad weather.  After sitting tight on the eggs for over a month, the parents again faced the challenge of keep the chick warm, dry and fed as the weather turned particularly bad at the beginning of May.  However, they demonstrated their greater level of experience as parents and the chick survived the storm. The nestling is looking big and strong now at over six weeks of age, and it is very exciting to think that 2015 could be the first year in over a century that a Cork-born white tailed eagle is seen flying again”. Local NPWS staff would like to commend the role of local people, in particular the ferry operators in Glengarriff Harbour, for helping ensure the eagles were not disturbed by people out on the water. We would urge anyone interested in seeing the eagles to observe them from a distance. 

The news of nesting White-tailed Eagles has generated alot of excitement locally in East Clare, West Cork, as well as Galway and Kerry and is likely to attract the attention of people keen to see the birds. However disturbance, particularly during the early stages of nesting when the birds are on eggs or have small chicks, would be detrimental to the pair’s success. “We are very conscious of the risk of disturbing the birds especially at this stage of nesting”Dr. Mee added. Please note that it is an offence under the Wildlife Act (1976) to willfully disturb White-tailed Eagles at the nest. Disturbance could result in the birds leaving the small chicks unguarded for a period during which they could be predated or be chilled or the birds could desert the site. We would caution people not to approach the nest area but instead avail of the unique opportunity to watch from a nesting pair of sea eagles from nearby Mountshannon pier. Information on the birds, their ecology and conservation will be available. We would like to acknowledge the goodwill and assistance of local people in the Mountshannon area, Mountshannon Community Council, local angling, gun clubs and Clare County Council before and during the nesting period“.

Whatever the outcome of these nesting attempts, the signs are good for future breeding in the area and at a number of other sites across Ireland in the near future. White-tailed Eagles can live for 25-30 years and generally mate for life with adult pairs remaining within their home range throughout the year. First time breeders, especially young birds, often fail at their first attempt. However, with the goodwill and support of local communities the species should have a bright future in Ireland.



·         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 Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in the Republic of Ireland.  
·         For more information on the White-tailed Eagle reintroduction project and to follow project updates visit www.goldeneagletrust.org and www.npws.ie 
·         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 29 birds have been recovered dead, mainly due to illegal poisoning.
  • Over the past six years White-tailed Sea Eagles have dispersed throughout Ireland and beyond. Many eagles have been reported from Northern Ireland and at least six birds have travelled to Scotland. One male that spend 8 months away from Kerry in 2009 travelled over 2,000 kilometres to the Orkney Islands off the north coast of Scotland before returning to Kerry. In early 2011 this male was found paired with a female in south Kerry. Immature White-tailed Sea Eagles may disperse over a wide area but once birds begin to mature and pair up at 4-5 years old they establish territories along the coast and inland lakes where they are resident throughout their lifetime.


  • The breeding population of White-tailed Eagles has increased from one pair in 2011 to 14 territorial pairs in 2014.


  • The first nesting in the wild was near Mountshannon, Co. Clare in 2012 and the first chicks also fledged (flew) from a nest near Mountshannon in 2013.


  • The young eagle (named Aoibheall) fledged from the nest in Mountshannon in July 2014 spent its first winter on Lough Derg and later on the Little Brosna callows in south Offaly before moving up the Shannon to Lough Ree.


  • Historically, the White-tailed Sea Eagle was once a respected and conspicuous part of the Irish landscape, before it was driven to extinction in the early 20th century by human persecution. 


  • Illegal poisoning remains the greatest threat to the eagle’s recovery. A six-year old breeding female was found poisoned on the nest near Roundstone, Co. Galway, in April 2015. Her mate has since deserted the nest site.


  • Nesting White-tailed Eagles feed predominantly on fish and to a lesser extent on birds and small mammals.



  • Some 10,000 people visited Mountshannon, Co. Clare, in summer 2014 to view the breeding White-tailed Eagles. A visitor survey found that White-tailed Eagles were the primary reason for visiting Mountshannon for 43% of those surveyed. Most (55%) stayed in the local area on visits. Most (89%) also said they would come back to see the birds in future.








1.       Dr. Allan Mee,

Project Manager, Irish White-tailed Sea Eagle Reintroduction Programme

Golden Eagle Trust

Tel: +353-873117608

Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Website: www.goldeneagle.ie



White-tailed Eagle chick, Mountshannon
Fri17th Apr 2015

A White-tailed Eagle has been found dead in the nest at a nest site in Connemara. The six year old female eagle was discovered dead in the nest on 1st April by Conservation Ranger Dermot Breen and recovered by a team from the National Parks & Wildlife Service on 2nd April. Subsequent post-mortem at the Regional Veterinary Laboratory in Athlone and toxicology analysis at the State Laboratory, Celbridge revealed the bird had been poisoned. 

The female White-tailed Eagle was released in Killarney National Park in 2009 as part of a reintroduction programme for the species managed by the Golden Eagle Trust in partnership with the National Parks & Wildlife Service.  The female eagle settled in the Roundstone area of Connemara in 2012 where she paired up with a male. In 2014 the pair laid eggs at a nest in a remote site but the eggs failed to hatch chicks successfully. Both birds were on the point of nesting again this year at the same nest when tragedy struck. Indeed the post-mortem found the female to contain two developing eggs, so this female was within a few days of laying eggs.

The loss of this breeding female comes as a serious blow to the reintroduction project.  White-tailed Eagles reach maturity and begin breeding at about 5 years of age. Seven pairs laid eggs in nests in the wild in 2014, with one nest near Mountshannon, Co. Clare, successfully fledging chicks in 2013 and 2014. It was hoped that the Connemara pair would one of a number of successful nests in Ireland in 2015. The loss of a breeding adult has been found to lead to the desertion of breeding sites with potentially serious implications for the long-term viability of the reintroduced population.

This is the 13th confirmed poisoning of a White-tailed Eagle in Ireland since the reintroduction project began in 2007. The use of poisons to control foxes and crows has been banned since 2010 but the illegal use of such substances remains a huge threat to wildlife including birds of prey which consume carrion (dead animals).Over the five years of the release phase of the project 100 young eagles were collected from nests in Norway and released in Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry. Thirty one of the released eagles have since been recovered dead with illegal poisoning by far and away the greatest threat to the recovery of this once native eagle to Ireland. Despite these losses the number of pairs in the wild rose to 14 in 2014 with most birds now mature enough to breed.  

 “This is a very disheartening incident as the killing of this breeding female has effectively put an end to any breeding attempt of this incredible species in West Galway for at least another five years” said NPWS Conservation ranger Dermot Breen. “To see the female lying dead on her nest was a very sad and sickening sight especially with the knowledge that she would have been due to lay two eggs. Historically up to 14 pairs were known to have bred in the Connemara region up 1838. Connemara lost its White-tailed Eagles shortly after this with the introduction of poison. It’s deeply frustrating to see history repeating itself. I’ve encountered no negative feedback from any local farmers with regard to the presence of the eagles over the last three years. Many landowners would ask how the eagles were doing and would tell me if they had been lucky enough to see them in the locality. The loss of this female is also a great loss to tourism in the area. Connemara is world renowned for being an area of unspoilt beauty. Unfortunately this illegal and irresponsible action is likely to tarnish Connemara’s green image, an area that relies heavily on tourism. “

“Although all losses impact the project, the loss of this female is very difficult to take” said Dr, Allan Mee, Project Manager with the Golden Eagle Trust. “She and her mate had been resident in Connemara for the last four years and it was only a matter of times before they produced chicks. It is likely the nest site they chose had been used by White-tailed Eagles in historical times, so losing this pair is devastating. Although the male may remain on his territory for some time, to date we have found that the loss of a breeding adult results in birds deserting the area and remaining some years before they find a mate again. The female’s mate is one of our satellite tagged eagles (male Star) who has travelled the length and breadth of Ireland several times before settling in Connemara. It’s tragic to see him lose his mate just on the point of nesting”.

“Over the years we have endured too many losses to illegal and indiscriminate poisoning. We have tried to address this by raising awareness both of the law and the threat posed by poisons to wildlife and farm dogs. While we believe our awareness efforts have been productive it is clear that some individuals are still resorting to using poisons on meat baits such as dead livestock. While their target may be foxes and crows we know to our cost the devastation this causes to our rare and protected birds of prey. We have to continue to get the word out there that this practice is no longer acceptable. We hope that all farmers and farming organisations will rightly condemn this practice which has no place in today’s supposedly more enlightened environment”.


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 the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in the Republic of Ireland.


·         Releases of birds have taken place every year for five years (2007-2011) in Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry. In August 2011 the final cohort of 23 birds were released bringing the number released to 100 over the five year release phase of the programme.


·         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 with a further successful chick fledged in Clare in 2014. The number of adult pairs has increased steadily from one in 2010 to 14 in 2014.



1.       Dermot Breen

Conservation Ranger, National Parks & Wildlife Service

Tel: +353-879337664

Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


2.       Dr. Allan Mee,

Project Manager, Irish White-tailed Sea Eagle Reintroduction Programme

Golden Eagle Trust

Ardpatrick, Kilmallock, Co Limerick, Ireland.

Tel: +353-873117608

Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Website: www.goldeneagle.ie

Facebook: www.facebook.com. Click on Facebook icon on GET homepage at www.goldeneagle.ie

Or search for Golden Eagle Trust after logging into your Facebook account.

Poisoned WTE Connemara
Sun15th Mar 2015

 The Golden Eagle Trust, Irish Raptor Study Group and BirdWatch Ireland have formed an exciting conservation partnership and collectively are co-ordinating the 2015 Irish Hen Harrier Survey for the National Parks & Wildlife Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht.

The hen harrier is protected by the EU Birds Directive and listed on Annex 1 and as such monitoring, research and protected areas are a vital component for the conservation of the species. In addition, survey and monitoring data collected during national surveys are vitally important as these data are used by the government and other agencies to help inform management and conservation decisions. Several declines were recorded during the last survey in 2010 and it is important that we re-survey to establish the status of the species in Ireland.

Similar to previous years the survey will cover all suitable hen harrier habitats within 10km grid squares during the breeding season (April to August) and perhaps you would like to undertake the same squares you participated in during the previous surveys. New surveyors are very welcome and training will be provided during some nationwide workshops later this month.

We would like to invite you to participate in the upcoming survey and hope you will enjoy the fieldwork and the collection of this important data. We hope you will consider volunteering to support this conservation task and hope you will all be able to cover a 10km square (or two) or perhaps put together your own small team and cover a number of squares. Standardised methods will be available at the workshops and by email.

We look forward to working with all of you over the coming months. If there is anything you need from us for in relation to the survey please feel free to contact any of us at any time by email or by phone, contact details below.  

We also invite you to attend any (or all) of the up-coming survey training workshops which will cover hen harrier ecology, methods, reporting and other research opportunities during the course of the survey.  These workshops will also allow people to meet other fieldworkers and discuss the methods and survey requirements. Survey material will be available at the workshops, but we will also forward potential survey allocations, recording forms and detailed survey instructions electronically in due course. If you wish to participate in the survey but are unable to attend any of the workshops, please let us know and we will forward all information electronically.

Participation on the workshops is free. Whilst numbers are not limited, we ask you to indicate your preferred venue and date and register in order that we may estimate numbers of participants with the hotels for catering purposes. Please browse through the workshop material and then follow the instructions on the booking form to confirm your preferred venue or correspondence details for electronic communication in relation to the surveys.


Dr Marc Ruddock                                            Dr Allan Mee                             Mr John Lusby

Tel. +353 (0) 873578590                                 Tel: +353 (0) 873117608           Tel. +353 (0) 85 7201892

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it     This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it        This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



In order to book a place on one of the workshops please click on the following link:



Workshops will be taking place at:


1) Charleville. Charleville Park Hotel, Main Limerick Road, Co. Cork.Saturday 21st March 2015.

Web: www.charlevilleparkhotel.com                             Phone: +353(0) 6333700


2) Charleville. Charleville Park Hotel, Main Limerick Road, Co. Cork.Monday 23rd March 2015.

Web: www.charlevilleparkhotel.com                             Phone: +353(0) 6333700


3) Athlone. Hodson Bay Hotel Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Saturday 21st March 2015.

Web: www.hodsonbayhotel.com                                     Phone: +353 (0) 906442000


4) Gort. Lady Gregory Hotel. Ennis Road, Gort, Co. Galway, Monday 23rd March 2015.

Web: www.ladygregoryhotel.ie                                      Phone: +353 (0) 91632333


5) Donegal. Mill Park Hotel. The Mullins, Donegal Town, Co. Donegal. Tuesday 24th March.

Web: www.millparkhotel.com                                        Phone: +353 (0) 749722880


6) Cavan. Errigal Country House Hotel, Cavan Road, Cavan Town, Co. Cavan Wednesday 25th March 2015

Web: www.errigalhotel.com                                            Phone: +353 (0) 495556904


7) Wicklow. Wicklow Mountains National Park, Kilafin, Laragh, Co. Wicklow. Wednesday 8th April 2015.

Web: www.wicklowmountainsnationalpark.ie            Phone: +353 (0) 40445800



Parking is available at all locations free of charge


Participants will be provided with tea/coffee on arrival, lunch is not provided but all hotels can cater for lunch at reasonable rates.


Accommodation is not included and participants are responsible for making their own arrangements, if required.


Participants will need to bring a notebook and pen to the workshop. Hand-outs (hard copy and electronic data sheets) will be provided.



0930 - 1000am    Arrival & Tea/Coffee

1000am    Hen Harrier Ecology (Short break 1130)

·         Description

-Physical characteristics



·         Behaviour

-Breeding biology

-Dispersal & survival

-Winter ecology

·         Population & status


-Conservation status

- Population size

-Population distribution

National Hen Harrier Survey 2015

·         Introduction

-Aims & objectives

-Licensing & disturbance

-Access issues

·         Field surveys

-Defining the survey area

-Timing of surveys

-Available resources

-Habitat mapping

-Health & safety

·         Establishing territory occupancy

·         Establishing breeding outcome

-Proof of breeding


-Classifying nest habitat

·         Other behaviours & habitat

·         Data recording & reporting

Other Recording

·         Recording threats and pressures in the area

·         Recording other priority bird species

·         Recording of prey or feather samples

1230pm   Survey area allocation

1330pm   Summation & Close

Standardised recording forms, method statements and maps will be available at the workshops, but will also be circulated electronically to all survey participants.

Hen Harrier pair
Fri13th Feb 2015

After 3 years apparently well-settled on territory and paired with a female in west Connemara, something is going on with 2009 male Star. Over the winter he made a couple of excursions away from Connemara to south-east Galway but returned to his territory. Not so just now though.

After returning to his territory on 6th Jan he headed east on 13th Jan roosting on the shore of Lough Corrib, the to Loughrea in SE Galway on 15th, then the shores of Lough Derg near Portumna on 18th, east into north Tipperary near Lorrha on 20th, north into south Offaly on 21st, to Lough Ennel in Westmeath on 23rd,  and on to nearby Lough Owel on 24th Jan where he spent the next few days.

On 28th Jan Star headed east into Meath then south to roost near Blessington, Co. Wicklow nest day. On 30th he headed further south to roost near Tullow, Co. Carlow, then south-west into Tipp roosting between Fethard and New Inn next day. On 1st Feb Star started to head back north-west to roost near Feakle in east Clare, then on to the west shore of Lough Corrib next day. On 7th Feb he finally returned back on territory to roost near his 2014 nest site. On 9th Feb he was back on the shore of Lough Corrib where he remains for the moment.

Although it’s as yet too early to be definite, all the evidence from his movements away from his territory suggests that something bad has happened to his mate. It’s just too unlikely that he would be spending so long away and travel so extensively round Ireland (see the map showing his GPS satellite tracks) if he had a mate still on territory. Over the next couple of months we should be able to confirm this but if something has happened to his mate (2009 female) it’s unlikely we will ever know for sure what as she doesn’t have a working transmitter to relocate her. Star will be keen to breed again this year so let’s hope he finds his old or a new mate pronto!

Star on the move again!
Tue23rd Dec 2014

Looks like 2009 released WTSE male Star will be spending Christmas on leave from his territory in south Connemara! Star took off and headed south-east across Galway Bay on 10th Dec, roosting the night just east of Gort on the northern edge of the Slieve Aughty hills. On 13th Dec he crossed into Co. Clare to roost near Lough Graney. Over the next nine day days (to 22 Dec) Star moved to the Loughrea area. This is the second trip away from “home” since the summer and both times he returned to the same area in south-east Galway. Meanwhile back at the ranch his mate (2009 tag semi-circle) must be wondering where he’s got to. But then as we don’t have a satellite tag on her she could also be taking time out before getting down to nesting in a few short months?! Let’s hope Star finds his way safely back to Connemara soonsmiley

Happy Christmas to you all and keep a look out for eagles and kites on your travels!

Star 22 Dec 2014
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