Friday 19 January 2018

On a wing and a prayer – eagle chick flies nest

The sea eagle chick sitting on its perch on Cribby Island, Lough Derg
The sea eagle chick sitting on its perch on Cribby Island, Lough Derg
An adult eagle
The adult female sea eagle flying over Cribby Island
Majella O'Sullivan

Majella O'Sullivan

A WHITE-tailed eagle chick has successfully flown the nest.

The young female bird fledged on Saturday from the nest on Lough Derg, near Mountshannon in Co Clare, and later in the week it could be seen perched on tall pine trees nearby.

The successful fledgling marks another milestone in the White-tailed Eagle Reintroduction Programme, where the birds are being restored to the coasts and wetlands.

The parent birds that produced this chick made history last year when they became the first pair to produce two chicks that successfully fledged from a wild nest in Ireland in over 100 years.

Project manager Dr Allan Mee said the White-tailed Eagle Trust was reluctant to announce the news before they were satisfied the young chick was "out of the woods".

"We were holding off until we knew the chick was going to be ok but she's well out of the woods now and flying well," he said.

It's been a very successful year for the programme which began in 2007 and released 100 young Norwegian eagles in the Killarney National Park over a five-year period.

In total, seven pairs nested in counties Kerry, Cork, Clare and Galway but all except the Clare pair failed to hatch or rear chicks.

This was thought to be mainly due to inexperience and cold, wet weather during the spring.

A pair in Glengarriff in Co Cork also hatched chicks but these did not survive to fledgling.

However, Dr Mee has taken heart from the Clare success.

"It seems to be that all the pairs have to fail once to get in right.

"The Mountshannon pair also had a failed attempt the year before they successful raised two chicks last year," he said.

Of the seven pairs, he hopes the ones that were not successful this year will go on to produce chicks next summer.

The programme is one of three being run in conjunction with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

There are also reintroduction programmes for the Golden Eagle and the Red Kite.

The White-tailed Eagle Programme has also been beset by tragedy and the loss of 29 of the original birds, mainly through poisoning.

There were 12 confirmed cases of poisoning and five suspected.

Three eagles were hit by a wind turbine, one was shot in Northern Ireland and another in Co Tipperary while another flew into a powerline. The other deaths are being attributed to natural causes.

Irish Independent

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