White-tailed Eagles have successfully hatched chicks in Ireland for the first time in over 110 years. In the last week a pair was confirmed to have hatched chicks at a nest near Mountshannon, Co Clare. This pair also created history in 2012 when they nested for the first time.
The Mountshannon breeding pair, a five year old male and four year old female, was collected on the island of Frøya off the west coast of Norway by the Golden Eagle Trust, Ireland. This pair laid eggs in 2012 on Bushy Island close to Mountshannon Harbour, but failed to hatch chicks. However by January 2013 had already built a new nest.
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. Allan Mee-White tailed Sea Eagle project manager, www.goldeneagle.ie added.
Please note that it is an offence under the Wildlife Act (1976) to willfully 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.
White tailed sea eagles nest in Mountshannon for the first time in 110 years.
• Viewing point at Mountshannon Harbour.
• Staff from The Golden Eagle Trust available on most days to help with any questions that you may have.
• Relax and enjoy the beautiful Harbour as you view the nesting birds on Bushy Island.
• Information and brochures etc. supplied.
A pair of White-tailed Eagles has been confirmed nesting in Mountshannon Bay, Co Clare, the first documented nesting attempt for the species in Ireland in over 110 years.
“This is a truly momentous event”, said Dr. Allan Mee, project manager for the Golden Eagle Trust. “It seems a long time since we collected these birds as chicks from nests in the wild in Norway and to see them now nesting in the wild themselves in Ireland is the day we have all been waiting for”. The breeding pair, a four year old male and three year old female, was collected in 2008 and 2009 respectively on the island of Frøya off the west coast of Norway. White-tailed Eagles are fully mature and usually begin to breed at five years of age but birds in Scotland have very occasionally bred as early as three. “We had hopes that this pair might try and build a nest but because the birds are relatively young we really didn’t expect them to breed”, Dr. Mee added. “The odds are stacked against young first-time breeders because they have no experience of nest-building, mating and caring for eggs and young. They have to get everything right to succeed. But this pair has impressed us so far. Once they settled down to incubate the clutch of eggs both parents were very diligent. The nest has only very rarely been left unattended and birds have been quick to spot potential dangers such as the presence of hooded crows which might predate the eggs. Since the eggs take some six weeks to hatch they still have a long way to go. But so far so good”.
Disturbance, particularly during the early stages of nesting when the birds are on eggs, would be detrimental to the pair’ success. “We are very conscious of the risk of disturbing the birds especially at this stage of nesting. Disturbance could result in the birds leaving the eggs unguarded for a period during which the eggs could be predated or be chilled or the birds could desert the site.
NOTE: White-tailed Eagles are a protected species and it is an offence under the Wildlife Act to wilfully disturb birds at the nest during the breeding season.
We would caution people not to approach the nest area but instead watch from the viewing area onshore where we will have a telescope for close viewing. Information and brochures on the birds, their ecology and conservation will be available.
Birds 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 birds should have a bright future.
This is fantastic news for County Clare and reflects the outstanding landscape and biodiversity we have here that can attract such beautiful birds” said Shane Casey, Biodiversity Officer for Clare County Council. “While it’ understandable that everyone will want to visit the area and have a look for themselves, it’s important to remember that this is a very sensitive and critical time for the birds, and as such we need to show some patience and responsibility, and let nature take its course unhindered. We are all hopeful that this story ends in a chick, but we must remember that this is already a success story, and that the first white-tailed eagle egg laid in Ireland in over a century was laid right here in County Clare!
Golden Eagle Trust: www.goldeneagle.ie