21/05/2014 : White-tailed eagle chicks hatch successfully in 2014
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White-tailed Eagles have successfully hatched chicks in Ireland in recent weeks. Fourteen pairs of eagles are holding territories across four counties with at least seven pairs nesting and laying eggs. In the last two weeks the first chicks of 2014 hatched in nests at Mountshannon, Co. Clare, and at Glengarriff in West Cork. Other pairs are nesting at sites in Kerry and Galway but have yet to hatch. In the last two weeks a pair was confirmed to have hatched chicks at a nest 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. A new nesting pair at Glengarriff was the first pair to hatch chicks this year in late April. Unfortunately the breeding efforts of this pair and a pair nesting in Killarney National Park failed, probably due to a combination of poor weather and inexperience. Hopes are high that the Mountshannon pair and others around the country will successfully raise chicks that will go on to form the basis of a viable population in Ireland. 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.
Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan commented:
“This is a very promising development. I, along with many others, was shocked at the killing earlier this year of one of the two white-tailed eagle chicks born last year. That was a dark day for this ambitious project to reintroduce these magnificent birds of prey into Ireland. The news that at least 7 pairs are now nesting and laying eggs is a great development for this project. The breeding pair at Mountshannon gives the general public an opportunity to see one of the most spectacular birds in this country at close quarters. They have proven to be a benefit to the local economy and I am confident that the continued presence of the Eagles will lead to a growth in sustainable tourism in the area. While the parent eagles started their Irish lives in Killarney National Park, I believe that now they belong to the people of the east Clare, who have already proven themselves to be worthy custodians and caretakers. The amount of voluntary monitoring, observation and recording of the breeding pairs activities is to be commended for this has helped in broadening our knowledge of these birds and our understanding of their needs for future success. I would like to congratulate all involved, and to thank the local communities for their assistance also. I am delighted that the first chicks of 2014 have hatched and I hope these young eagles will have a long life in our skies.”
“We are delighted that White-tailed Eagles are now nesting across four counties, from Cork, Kerry and Clare to Connemara, Co. Galway ” , 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 Connemara, although Kerry remains the stronghold for the species. The increase in the number of pairs nesting is really encouraging and bodes well for the future of the species. Last years’ successful nesting in Clare was a milestone 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, and in Kerry, Cork and Galway for their goodwill and continued support. The eagles have benefitted from widespread support from communities and landowners, and their presence has the potential to enhance the rural economies of these areas, especially through wildlife tourism. Special thanks also go to our friends in Norway who put their faith in the reintroduction programme in Ireland by providing birds and also supporting us from the start of the reintroduction.
Norwegian Ambassador to Ireland Roald Næss was also delighted to hear of the projects success. “The embassy has followed the development of this project with great interest. This is an excellent example of international cooperation on the practical level, aiming at preserving nature and biodiversity for the benefit of future generations.”
News of the hatching has been greeted with excitement locally in East Clare. John Harvey, Chairman of Mountshannon Community Council said“We are delighted that this pair of eagles has made its home here near Mountshannon for the third year in a row. Last year they made history by raising the first two chicks of the reintroduction project. This year we are hoping for great things and so far everything has gone to plan despite some rough weather. Visitors have travelled from far and wide to Mountshannon to see the nesting eagles over the last two years and are very welcome to Mountshannon again this year. Sadly one of last year’s young was shot earlier this year. 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.”
The news of nesting White-tailed Eagles has generated a lot 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 wilfully 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.
- Dr. Allan Mee,
Project Manager, Irish White-tailed Sea Eagle Reintroduction Programme
Golden Eagle Trust
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