By the start of September all birds were located along the west shore of Lough Leane (Lower Lake), except male horizontal bar who had made it to the Upper Lake just two days after release on 29/8. Our first bird (tag #5) to disperse, left the release area on 15-16/9 to go to the coast at Glenbeigh, 24klm west of the release site in Killarney, but returned by 20/9. Another bird, male horizontal bar ?, left the release area on 20-21/9, was observed on the Dingle Peninsula on 25/9 before, on 26/9, presumably taking the 36klm direct route at the shortest sea crossing to the Skelligs (72klm from the release site) where it disturbed the peace of some 50,000 gannets and the resident peregrine falcons. This must have been an amazing sight for some lucky people. To see eagles back where they belong on the islands of the Kerry coast is something we all want to see in the long run, but I hadn?t thought it would happen quite so soon! Boat operators taking tourists out to the islands reported the sighting (including tag colours) on Radio Kerry while it also made the local, regional and national papers. Reports in the media of impacts on the gannet colony (an injured gannet was seen but was probably coincidence) were wide of the mark considering the eagle apparently only visited the Skelligs for some 15 minutes! The following day presumably this bird was seen being chased by choughs on the Blaskets, and was recorded at two other sites on the Dingle Peninsula. From 28/9 the same bird took up residence on the south side of the Slieve Mish Mts near Keel, some 24klm from the release site, before returning to the Killarney area via Ceann Trá on 10/10. By mid-October all birds had vacated the Lower Lake for the Upper Lake-Black Valley area, c6klm from the release site.
Table 1. White-tailed Eagles released in Killarney National Park in 2007:
All tags yellow on left and white on right wings respectively.
|1||M||Storfjorden (Frøya)||B||16-8-07||31-10-07||Upper Lake|
|5||M||Vobsjøen (Frøya)||B||16-8-07||31-10-07||Upper Lake|
|7||F||Flatøya (Frøya)||B||16-8-07||31-10-07||Upper Lake|
|X||F||Kvernøya (Flatanger)||T||29-8-07||31-10-07||Upper Lake|
|?||F||Halmøya (Flatanger)||B||29-8-07||31-10-07||Upper Lake|
|?||F||Storsteinvatnet (Frøya)||T||29-8-07||31-10-07||Upper Lake|
B = backpack, T = tailmount transmitter
All six birds from the later release on 29/8 appeared to be faring well and finding food at food dumps. However, female diagonal bar flew NW on release and remained isolated from the other birds almost 3klm from the nearest regularly used food dump on the shoreline for much of September. Food was placed regularly in her vicinity and appeared to be much used. Two food dumps established on the lake shore after release in August were in constant use throughout September with food placed at sites every three days and once a week up to mid-October. Feeding was discontinued at these sites in mid-October. Initially food was also placed at the release site but this was discontinued once it was clear birds were no longer coming to the site but were finding food regularly at other food dumps.
Food dumps (Sika deer) were established in mid-September in an area SW of the release site (0.5-2klm away) on open hill ground to provide an alternative to the shoreline food dumps and encourage birds to forage over a wider area. Most birds began using sites in this area from mid-late September through to mid-October and observations at carcasses provided good data on the identity, number, and feeding activity of birds at these sites. Observations by Joe Sheehan, an undergraduate student at UCC, as part of a final year research project, proved good information from early October onwards.
Several birds fed on a dead sheep carcass within the park on 29/9. From 10/10 onwards birds were mostly resident in the Upper Lake/Black Valley area where they apparently found sheep and deer carrion on the hill and in the valley. On 11/10 N Stronach and I observed male #0 making a couple of playful stoops on a Sika deer stag on the N side of the Upper Lake. Similar behaviour was also observed on the hill SW of the release area (S. O?Donnell). Although mostly using the hill and shore on the N side of the Upper Lake birds occasionally wandered up to 4klm W up the Black Valley.
Individual WTSE accounts
Male YW0: Resident on the W shore of the LL during September but feeding at sites to SW of release site by late September. Of note was the persistent ?begging? calling behaviour of this bird at the feeding site on 1/10, presumably typical of a fledged juv but lacking parents in this case. Largely resident in the Upper Lake/Black Valley area from 8/10 onwards.
Male YW1: Resident on the W shore of the LL throughout September but feeding on the hill feeding sites by late Sept-early October. Largely resident in the Upper Lake/Black Valley area from 12/10 onwards.
Male YW2: Previously determined to be a female by biometrics but male following results of DNA sexing. Located on LL in the early part of the month. Dropped its transmitter (tailmount) between 11-14/9. Amazingly the transmitter and tail feather were found intact at Bensons Point near the lake shore without a receiver by Con Moriarty (while I was on Mull, Scotland). Since then #2 was observed at hill feeding sites in early October.
Female YW3: This satellite tagged bird was seen irregularly throughout Sept and Oct but was present during feeding site observations on the open hill ground in early October. Satellite data placed the bird at sites along the shore of the LL and hill country to the west but interestingly never in the Upper Lake area frequented by most other birds by mid-October.
Female YW4: Resident on the W shore of the LL during September and regular at the hill feeding sites SW of the release area in late Sept-early October. Largely resident in the Upper Lake/Black Valley area from 12/10 onwards.
Male YW5: Resident on the W shore of the LL in early-mid September. Last signaled on LL on 15/9 then relocated at the mouth of the Caragh river near Glenbeigh on 18/9, a distance of 24klm from the release site. Returned to the LL area by 20/9 where it frequented the hill feeding sites until taking up residence in the Upper Lake/Black Valley area from 8/10 onwards.
Male YW6: Resident on the W shore of the LL throughout September but feeding on the hill feeding sites by late Sept-early October. Largely resident in the Upper Lake/Black Valley area from 12/10 onwards. Only bird to show up (but not feed) at a carcass SW of the release area on 17/10.
Female YW7: Resident on the W shore of the LL throughout September but feeding on the hill feeding sites by late Sept-early October. Largely resident in the Upper Lake/Black Valley area from 8/10 onwards.
Male YW8: Largely resident in the Glena-Dinis area throughout September but feeding on the hill feeding sites by late Sept-early October. Largely resident in the Upper Lake/Black Valley area from 8/10 onwards.
Male YW9: Resident on the W shore of the LL for much of September and early-mid October. The only eagle not to be recorded at the hill feeding sites but apparently continued to use feeding sites on the lake shore. Largely resident in the Upper Lake/Black Valley area from 13/10 onwards.
Male YW?: The first bird to reach the Upper Lake only two days after release, returned to the LL by the start of Sept. Seen flying over the Gap of Dunloe on 16/9 along with a second bird. Last signaled in the LL area on 20/9. Searched for on Iveragh peninsula (22/9), Tralee Bay-Fenit-Kerry Head (24/9) but no contact made. Confirmed sightings at Baile Coinín, near Ballyferriter on the Dingle Peninsula on 25/9 (C. Knight), Sceilg Mhichíl and Sceilg Beag on 26/9 (E. Holman, B. Wilson, K. & J. Roddy), An Blascaoid Mór (B. Wilkins, M. Sheeran) and Baile Coinín again on 27/9 (E. Holman), and Baile an Duin on 28/9 (E. Holman). By mid-afternoon on 28/9 ? was picked up on the S side of the Slieve Mish Mountains and was located on the ground with several ravens and hooded crows later that day at Gortaleen, near Keel, c1.5klm inland from Castlemaine Harbour. The area was open hill ground with a high density of sheep. Late the following day the bird was accidentally flushed from a small ash tree over the road and within 10m of an unoccupied house. This bird remained in this area for the next 9 days. On 4/10 ? was located in the same area but, late in the day, flew 3klm SE to Roscullen Island on the N side of Castlemaine Harbour. Later still (1918) it flew SE across the harbour to the S shore at Roscullen Point flushing two Little Egrets en route. The bird was again located on Roscullen Island on 6/10 but was nowhere to be found in the area on 8/10 or on the N side of the Dingle Peninsula. However, a sighting at Ventry Harbour on 8/10 (J. Holstead) must have been this bird on the move again. By midday on 10/10 ? had returned to the Killarney area after 19/20 days away. ? remained in the Upper-Lake/Black Valley area for the rest of the month.
Female YWX: Took several days to find its way to the lake shore and join other birds after release but then largely resident on the W shore of the LL for much of September and early October. Recorded by J. Sheehan near feeding site on open hill SW of the release site in late Sept. but did not feed and never frequented monitored carcasses in early-mid October. Recorded in the Upper Lake/Black Valley area from 13/10 but back in LL area on 16/10. Returned to the Upper Lake by 24/10
Female YW?: Resident on the W shore of the LL for much of September and early October but also feeding on the hill feeding sites by late Sept-early October. Largely resident in the Upper Lake/Black Valley area from 8/10 onwards.
Female YW/: Previously scored as male by biometrics but female following DNA sexing. Bird of most concern following release on 29/8. Resident in small section of oakwood 1.5km NW of release site for much of September where easily located. Fed at food placed on forest floor and on nearby shore. Finally moved back toward the release site on 22/9 and by late Sept-early Oct had made it to feed on the hill to SW of the release area. Largely resident in the Upper Lake/Black Valley area by 24/10 onwards.
Female YW?: Resident on the W shore of the LL for much of September. This ?runt? female had been a cause for concern in the early days of captivity having to be hand fed for some days. Thus, it was good to see this bird dominating a carcass and displacing others on the open hill feeding site on 1/10. By 10/10 was largely resident in the Upper Lake/Black Valley area.