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Declan Cairney with a Harris Hawk at the Ailwee Caves, Co Clare

Declan Cairney with a Harris Hawk at the Ailwee Caves, Co Clare

Declan Cairney with a Harris Hawk at the Ailwee Caves, Co Clare

FAMOUS naturalist David Attenborough had better watch out. A Co Galway boy -- aged just 11 -- has published a nature book focusing on birds of prey, and has illustrated it with his own drawings to boot.

At the book launch for 'Raptors' at the Aillwee Caves in the Burren, Co Clare, Declan Cairney shared his passion for the birds with the attendance, explaining: "It was from my time at the Birds of Prey Centre here that I learned so much about these beautiful birds."

'Raptors' contains Declan's profiles of hawks, owls, eagles, vultures and falcons complete with his drawings.

As part of his volunteer work at the Birds of Prey Centre, Declan provides informal tours to tourists giving his detailed insights into the birds. He hopes to work there "forever".

The general manager of the Golden Eagle Trust, Lorcan O'Toole, yesterday heaped praise on Declan's book and his endeavour.

Mr O'Toole said that "Declan's book is a very good primer for the subject of birds of prey. It is excellent and what Declan has achieved is fantastic".

He added: "The beauty of it is that the content of the book is a child's observations, views and knowledge. For an 11-year old it is a very, very well informed book and shows a very good understanding of the birds of prey.

Declan said the profits from the book would go to the Golden Eagle Trust.

He added: "The trust does great work. I want the money so it can help the birds."

The Dublin-born youngster is, however, remaining coy over his next publishing project.

"I have a few ideas, but I don't want to say anything just yet."

His mother Maeve said that she was "immeasurably proud and all of the work in the book is Declan's".

Declan is a pupil of his local Northampton NS in Kinvara and took part in the annual 'Write a Book Project' run by the Galway Education Centre, with publication being funded by family members.

As part of its work, the Golden Eagle Trust has re-introduced three native birds: the Golden Eagle, the White-Tailed Eagle and the Red Kite.

Irish Independent