All first and second-year Golden Eagles were located alive in the Derryveagh Mountains during the first few days of January 2003, except Three Spots. On the 9th January 2003, Three Spots was located perched in the Head of Glenveagh thus ensuring a 100% survival rate for Irish Golden Eagles in 2002. Admittedly it is a very small sample size - less than 9 eagle years in total (5 x 1 year and 8 x 6 months) - and the birds have spent a lot of time inside the safety of the National Park boundaries. When the population increases and the eagles begin to wander further away from the core release area the threat of persecution is likely to increase. There are very few breeding Buzzards in Leitrim, Sligo, Mayo and Galway and raising support for eagles in these disparate counties will take time and effort. However, many people feared there would be high annual mortality rates due to persecution in Donegal. We do not expect to see a 100% survival rate in future years - so let us savour this remarkable fact and pleasant feeling whilst it lasts.
Horizontal Bar, Diagonal Bar and Two Spots were noted in the Derryveagh range on the 3rd January and One Spot was also noted there on the 6th January. Diagonal Bar was seen feeding at a food dump in the Park on the 9th January and Three Spots and Diagonal Bar were noted in the Park on the 13th January. Two Spots was noted flying in the Glendowan Mountains on the 15th January. Two Spots, Three Spots and Horizontal Bar were noted in the Glenveagh National Park on the 29th January.
Blue 8 had returned to the Park by the 6th January, was not located on the 9th, had a faint signal from the edge of the Park on the 11th, was not located on the 13th or 14th and was present in the Park on the 15th. Blue 2 and Blue 5 were not located in the Park on the 11th but had returned by the 13th January. Blue 5 was absent again on the 20th and itself and Blue 8 were absent on the 22nd and the 29th January. Blue 9 continued to give cause for concern during December and January - it would appear to have some physical weakness and has not been as strong as the other eagles ever since its belated release. However on the 30th January Blue 9 was seen soaring, in strong winds, for the first time since it was released in September 2002. The other four first-year birds were monitored regularly within the Park during January.