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'They never touched a lamb': Lough Derg farmer on the reintroduction of the white tailed eagle

The arrival of the first White-tailed Eagle chicks in over 100 years into the country sparked controversy and even a protest at the airport. However, a decade since the White-tailed Eagle Reintroduction Programme began, a partnership approach with farmers has helped dispel myths, allay the fears and strengthen the success of the project


Jos Hogan

Jos Hogan

Jos Hogan

On his suckler and sheep farm on the shores of Lough Derg, Jos Hogan has developed a new hobby - bird watching.

But Mr Hogan is not looking out for any ordinary bird - his interest is in the White-tailed Eagle and a nesting pair that regularly soars above his holding in Lower Urra, about 15km from Nenagh in Co Tipperary.

At this time of year, he can look forward to the magnificent sight on a regular basis and can even get close enough to be able to read the wing tags with his binoculars.

He's in regular contact with the Golden Eagle Trust to inform them of the sightings.

"It didn't dawn on me when I read about the reintroduction project first that I'd ever see eagles here but since I've got to know the way the eagles work and seen them over my own flock of sheep they never ever bothered me at all.


An adult White Tailed Eagle catches a fish to feed her chicks. Photo:Valerie O'Sullivan

An adult White Tailed Eagle catches a fish to feed her chicks. Photo:Valerie O'Sullivan

An adult White Tailed Eagle catches a fish to feed her chicks. Photo:Valerie O'Sullivan

"They never touched a lamb and I can vouch for that because I've watched them soaring over them for 15 or 20 minutes at a time. They're just watching for fish on the lake," he said.

Mr Hogan (pictured) admits he didn't know a lot about the eagles until he rang the number provided and spoke to Dr Allan Mee, who then visited his north Tipperary holding.

"I was seeing a pair on a regular basis, maybe every second day, and it turned out there was a pair thinking of nesting in the area but they eventually nested in Portumna," he added.

He still spots the 'Portumna Pair' on a regular basis, soaring or resting on a tree.

"It's unbelievable. You could watch them for half an hour and they'd never flap their wings.

"But it's a lovely sight to see them perched on the tree as well."

Recently he's spotted a single eagle in the area also but he doesn't usually see them from spring to late autumn again.

"The Mount Shannon eagles aren't that far away from me either, only a couple of miles on the other side of the lake," he said.

"It's like a pastime. The first thing I do in the morning without thinking is look over to see are the eagles on the tree. You'd see them a lot more often on a good windy day. You'd rarely see them soaring on a calm day."

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