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Friday, 29 February 2008 18:07

WTE Project Jan - Feb 2008

Kerry sea eagles get ready to fly Kerry sea eagles get ready to fly

Irish White-tailed Sea Eagle Reintroduction Project
update period Jan-Feb 2008

SUMMARY
By the start of the year, most birds released in 2007 were still largely ?resident? in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area to the southwest of Killarney National Park (KNP), roosting at one of two sites and foraging to the west on the Iveragh Peninsula during the day. Throughout the period most birds foraged over the core Brida Valley-L. Brin-Cloon Lough area up to 25-30klm SWof the release site. By late Feb birds were regularly using a roost site seven kilometers west of the main roost site within KNP. Two birds, tags #1 and #9 remained on the Lower Lake through most of January, bird #9 remained there into February. Bird #7 was recorded in the Ballinskelligs Bay area on 15 Feb. Male tag ð remained undetected away from KNP between 19 December and 8 January when he returned to the park but was also absent for periods after this.

Birds continued to forage over mountain areas to the west of the Black Valley with sheep carrion likely to form most of the bird?s food sources during the period. On 18-19 Feb two birds, male #5 and female #4, were recovered dead on hillside on the Iveragh Peninsula. Poisoning was immediately suspected because of the close proximity of the deaths in time and space. This was subsequently confirmed by lab analysis and is the subject of ongoing investigation. Needless to say, the loss of these two birds is a huge blow to the project. It is hoped that the positive publicity surrounding the deaths of the birds has brought the serious issue to the forefront and concentrated minds so that this threat to the reestablishment and expansion of all scavenger populations (Golden Eagle, Red Kite and Buzzard included) can be greatly reduced or eliminated over time.

Table 1. White-tailed Eagles released in Killarney National Park in 2007. All tags yellow and white on left and right wings respectively. (UL-BV = Upper Lake-Black Valley)

Tag Sex Origin Transmitter Released Last recorded Last location
0 M Vikna B 16-8-07 28-02-08 Black Valley
1 M Storfjorden (Frøya) B 16-8-07 11-02-08 ?
2 M Vikna LOST 16-8-07 12-11-07 Upper Lake
3 F Vikna GPS PTT 16-8-07 6-11-07 Dead
4 F Moldtun-Snillfjord B 16-8-07 15-02-08 Dead 19 Nov
5 M Vobsjøen (Frøya) B 16-8-07 15-02-08 Dead 18 Nov
6 M Frøya T 16-8-07 28-02-08 Black Valley
7 F Flatøya (Frøya) B 16-8-07 28-02-08 Black Valley
8 M Hitra T 16-8-07 28-02-08 Black Valley
9 M Leka B 16-8-07 28-02-08 Black Valley
M Vikna B 29-8-07 28-02-08 Black Valley
X F Kvernøya (Flatanger) T 29-8-07 28-02-08 Black Valley
?: F Halmøya (Flatanger) B 29-8-07 28-02-08 Black Valley
/ F Vikna T 29-8-07 28-02-08 Black Valley
¦ F Storsteinvatnet (Frøya) T 29-8-07 28-02-08 Black Valley


B = backpack, T = tailmount transmitter

FORAGING
Birds continued to forage mainly in the west part of the Black Valley, and the Brida-L. Brin-Cloon area to the west of KNP throughout the period while regularly returning to roost at the W edge of KNP. Males #1 and #9 remained largely resident on the E side of the Lower Lake, perhaps attracted to the area by the presence of spent salmon. Extensive flooding in the area most frequented by the birds gave plenty of undisturbed roosting sites on the many temporarily offshore ?islands?. It is also likely that sheep carrion carried down by the Flesk as well as flocks of mallard, teal, and waders such as Northern Curlew present in the area may have figured in their diet. An eagle was seen successfully catching a small fish in front of the Lake Hotel on 31 Jan (N. Huggard), most likely either #1 or #9, the first observation of fishing by sea eagles since release.

An eagle also flew low over Cummeenduff Lough in the Black Valley on 1 Feb possibly attracted by salmon in the area. Interestingly, despite an apparently good run of salmon on the Upper Lake and eventually in the Gearhameen River in the Black Valley, described as the best for years by locals, no eagles in the area appeared to locate this potential food source. Male #6 was seen chasing a Lesser Black-backed Gull at Cloon Lough on 2 Feb but was unsuccessful. Pellets found at the main roost site were composed entirely of sheep wool and small bones. Up to nine birds were roosting at this site and another 7klm to the west by late Feb.

DISPERSAL
Apart from daily foraging 25-30klm west of regular roost sites in valleys and upland areas, some dispersal outwith this core area was recorded. Bird #7 was located in the Ballinskelligs Bay area at the W end of the Iveragh Peninsula on 15 Feb (48klm SW). Birds #6 and ð were recorded on the Beara Peninsula (25-30klm SSW) on 20 Feb but had returned to roost in KNP that night. Two eagles were reliably reported from Lough Guitane on 24 Feb (P. Tangney) but no birds were located there on 25 Feb. However, male ð was absent from the core area until 8 Jan, last recorded in N. Kerry on 19 Dec. This birds was also absent between 12-26 Jan, 28-31 Jan, 3/5-15 Feb and was not located despite searches throughout the Iveragh Peninsula. Although there were no reports from the public during this period it is likely that this male made some extensive journeys during this period.

MORTALITY
On 18 Nov the body of male #5 (BTO ZZ1661) was recovered after a search of a mountain area SWof the release site. The following day female #4 (BTO ZZ1657) was also recovered dead with 0.5klm of male #5. Necropsy at the Regional Vet Lab, Cork, revealed that both bird were in excellent condition with no trauma detected (weights 4.0 and 6.5kg respectively). Subsequent toxicology tests at the State Lab in Celbridge and Cork Institute of Technology revealed concentrations of Alphachlorolose and Nitroxinil. The former is a legally obtained poison while the latter is a dose for fluke in sheep and cattle (brand name Trodax). Traces of Alphachlorolose were also found in samples from a dead sheep recovered within a few metres of bird #4. The investigation is at present in the hands of the Gardaí in Caherciveen. For this reason any information should be treated as confidential.

INDIVIDUAL WTSE ACCOUNTS

Male YW0: Largely resident in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area throughout the period. Roosted at Blackwater Bridge on the N side of Kenmare Bay (23klm SW) along with female / on 5 Jan. Foraging in the Brida-Brin area on 22 Jan and the Brida Valley on 28 Jan with ?? and /.

Male YW1: Resident along with male #9 on the Lower Lake, KNP, since November 2007, particularly at the mouth of the Flesk River of the east side of the lake. Remained on the Lower Lake until 23 Jan, then the W side of KNP on 24 Jan. Picked up signal on Beara Peninsula on 26 Jan, probably on N side of Kenmare Bay. Back in the Upper Lake- Black Valley area on 28 Jan. Moved back to the Lower Lake by 30 Jan and present there until at least 11 Feb. Not relocated during the period after that date (relocated on 1 Mar on the S side of the Slieve Mish Mts on the N side of Castlemaine Harbour, 23klm NW).

Male YW2: Lost its tailmount transmitter in mid-September. No confirmed visuals during the period but probably part of the main group of birds foraging and roosting in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area (visuals of all birds were very irregular after late Dec). Female YW4:Mostly resident in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area during the period. Seen landing high on summit of Bruach na Binne to the west of the Black Valley along with birds 8, X, and ð on 11 Jan. Foraging in the Brida-L. Brin area on 15 Jan along with birds 6, 8 and ¦á. Also in the Brida Valley area on 15 Feb with birds 6, 9, X, / and ¦á. Recovered dead on 19 Feb in an upland area west of the Black Valley c400m from where #5 had been located the day before.

Male YW5:Mostly resident in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area during the period. Foraging in the L. Brin area on 28 Jan. Located in the Brida Valley on 15 Feb along with birds 6, and 9. Recovered dead on 18 Feb in an upland area west of the Black Valley.

Male YW6:Mostly resident in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area throughout the period. Foraging in the Brida-L. Brin area on 15 Jan along with birds 7, 8 and ¦á. Located at Cloon Lough on 28 Jan. Also seen perched on island in Cloon Lough on 2 Feb when briefly chased a Lesser Black-backed Gull. Located in the Brida Valley area on 15 Feb with birds 7, 9, X, / and ¦á. Signaled SSE of Templenoe on the S side of Kenmare Bay on the Beara Peninsula towards Cummer Lough-BarraduffMountain on 20 Feb (25klm SSW) but had returned to the KNP roost that night.

Female YW7:Mostly resident in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area throughout the period. Missing from 12 Feb until relocated in the Ballinskelligs Bay area at the W end of the Iveragh Peninsula on 15 Feb (48klm SW). Returned to the KNP area by 19 Feb and remained to the end of the period.

Male YW8:Mostly resident in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area during the period. Seen landing high on summit of Bruach na Binne to the west of the Black Valley along with birds 7, X, and ð on 11 Jan. Foraging in the Brida-L. Brin area on 15 Jan along with birds 6, 7 and ¦á. Foraging in the Brida Valley on 11 and 15 Feb. Located at L. Acoose on 18 Feb and the L. Brin area on 20 Feb returning to the KNP roost that night.

Male YW9: Resident along with male #1 on the Lower Lake, KNP, since mid-December 2007, particularly at the mouth of the Flesk River of the east side of the lake. Located on Reen Point on 24 Jan. Moved to the Upper Lake on 12 Feb. Located in the Brida Valley area on 15 Feb with birds 6, 7, X, / and ¦á. Foraging in the Gortfadda area 6klm SW of L. Brin on 20 Feb returning to roost at KNP that night. Not relocated again until 27 Feb.

Male YWð : Last recorded SE of Knockanore Hill in N Kerry on 19 Dec 2007. Finally returned to the KNP area by 8 Jan and remained in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area until 12 Jan. Seen landing high on summit of Bruach na Binne to the west of the Black Valley along with birds 7, 8, and X on 11 Jan. Returned to the Upper Lake-Black Valley area on 26 Jan but gone again by 28 Jan. Returned by 31 Jan but away again between 3-8 Feb. Relocated at Lough Acoose on 15 Feb when watched for some hours perched by the shore. Tracked to the S side of Kenmare Bay on the Beara Peninsula on 20 Feb but had returned to the KNP roost that night. Foraging and landing on Peakeen Mountain, SWof Moll?s Gap, with birds /, ?m, and ¦á on 22 Feb. Remained in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area for the rest of the period.

Female YWX: Located in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area throughout the period. Seen landing high on summit of Bruach na Binne to the west of the Black Valley along with birds 7, 8, and ð on 11 Jan. Located on the S side ofMullaghanatinn to Wof L. Brin on 11 Feb. Located in the Brida Valley area on 15 Feb with birds 6, 7, 9, / and ¦áand later furtherW towards Knocknagapple. Also in the Brida area on 22 Feb and the Cloon area on 22 Feb. Otherwise located at the usual roosts towards the end of Feb.

Female YW? : Located in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area throughout the period with several visuals up to mid-December. Foraging in the Brida Valley on 28 Jan with 0 and /. Foraging and landing on Peakeen Mountain, SWof Moll?s Gap, with birds ð , /, and ¦á on 22 Feb. Visual at Kingsboro Wood on the N side of the Upper Lake on 27 Feb. Female YW/: Located in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area throughout the period. Roosted at Blackwater Bridge on the N side of Kenmare Bay (23klm SW) along with male #0 on 5 Jan. Foraging in the Brida Valley on 28 Jan with ?« and 0 and again on 11, 14 and 15 Feb. Foraging and landing on Peakeen Mountain, SW ofMoll?s Gap, with birds ð , ?, and ¦á on 22 Feb. Located at one of the two regular roost to the end of Feb.

Female YW¦: Located in the Upper Lake-Black Valley area throughout the period. Foraging in the Brida-L. Brin area on 15 Jan along with birds 6, 7, and 8. Located in the Brida Valley area on 15 Feb with birds 6, 7, 9, X, and /. Foraging and landing on Peakeen Mountain, SWofMoll?s Gap, with birds ð , /, and ?Ë on 22 Feb. Located at one of the two regular roost to the end of Feb.

Thanks to the following observers for information/sightings of eagles:
Pascal Dower, Claire Heardman, Niall Huggard, John-Joe O?Connor, Pat Tangney.

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Last modified on Friday, 09 March 2012 17:34