Six Irish-born white-tailed eagles fly nests in 2016

After a slow start, this has been the most successful year in effort to re-introduce birds

Six white-tailed sea eagle chicks have flown from their nests in Ireland in 2016, making it the most successful year yet for a project to re-introduce the birds in the State. Photograph: iStock/Getty.

Six white-tailed sea eagle chicks have flown from their nests in Ireland in 2016, making it the most successful year yet for a project to re-introduce the birds in the State. Photograph: iStock/Getty.

 

Six white-tailed sea eagle chicks have flown from their nests in Ireland in 2016, making it the most successful year yet for a project to re-introduce the birds in the State.

One hundred of the birds were brought from Norway to the Killarney National Park between 2007 and 2011, and to date 13 chicks have survived. The aim is to get at least 10 chicks flying from their nests each year.

Clare Heardman, conservation ranger on the eagle project in west Cork, said it had been a slow start but it was on par with a similar project commenced 40 years ago on the Isle of Mull in Scotland which ultimately succeeded.

Three of this year’s eagle chicks were hatched and reared in Co Kerry including one in the Killarney National Park where the sea-eagle introduction project was centred. There are two Galway fledglings and one in Glengarriff.

More than 30 of the Norwegian eagles have died and the National Parks and Wildlife Service recently told An Bord Pleanála that the initiative had cost more than € 1.5 million and was at a critical stage.

Economic benefits

Ms Heardman said the long-term benefits were not just for conservation but were also economic, particularly for remote areas, like west Cork and the Ring of Kerry.

The Glengarriff eagle chick, who has been slower to leave the next than expected, was the first fledged in Co Cork in 120 years, she said.

“However he’s been flying around the bay for six weeks now and looking strong. His parents are still feeding him but before the year is out he will become independent and leave the area,” Ms Heardmen said.

Dr Allan Mee of the Golden Eagle Trust, partners in the project, said it was hoped that Irish born chicks would soon start breeding themselves.

Some of the breeding “pairings” this year actually involved three eagles, he said. On the Iveragh peninsula on the Ring of Kerry a male and two females were involved in one site; and on the Beara a female and two males got together.