Meet Paudie - our first eagle in almost 110 years
HE'S called Paudie and he took some getting to. The first White Tailed Eaglet born in Kerry in almost 110 years is certainly a sight to behold as project leader Dr Allan Mee got to grips with the prime specimen this week.
He's just eight weeks old but looks fully grown to the untrained eye. Paudie still can't fly and has been nesting well off the beaten track in the Tomies area of Killarney National Park.
Indeed, it took the project team, including photographer Valerie O'Sullivan, over three hours to reach the perch overlooking the world famous Lakes of Killarney and the powerful bird has now been tagged. The metre-wide nest is around 15 metres up a tree, as Dr Mee revealed.
"It was a very difficult place to get to, horrendous in places due to the rhododendron, and when we got close we could hear it call as the mother arrived with food just before we got there," Dr Mee recalled this week.
"It can look deceptive as its feathers are big but they're light and not fully formed. Importantly, he is of good health and we kept him for about half an hour before putting him back in the nest. We will have no need for any further contact now as the transmitter is in place," he added.
The team had been watching the mating parents from over a kilometre away throughout the spring months and remained at a distance until this week when they had the opportunity to get up close and personal. The mother eagle remained in the area and certainly made her self heard with a characteristic chatter as she circled above while the tag was being attached.
Paudie weighs in at almost 3.35kg - a full grown eagle weighs around 5kg - and is still in the nest and Dr Mee says it will be several weeks yet before the bird is airborne. He will be raised by both parents - a six-year-old female and five-year-old male - until he is able to leave the nest unaided.
Paudie is the third White Tailed Eaglet born in Ireland as a result of the Norwegian based project. He is just a week younger than a pair born in Co Clare.
"We're hoping the Clare birds will leave the nest in a couple of weeks and we would expect our Kerry bird to leave the nest in around four weeks," Dr Mee added.