Over the last few weeks the newly released Sea Eagles have been coming and going with most birds still to be found in Killarney National Park, especially around Lough Leane with others along the Long Range and Upper Lake. The furthest we know that birds have travelled was one to Cork Harbour and back (satellite tagged male Seán) and another (male 14) to Lough Currane near Waterville. Possibly the same bird was spotted on a brief visit to Sceilig Mhichíl on 30 August (the day after I visited the Skelligs:-(), the site of ancient monastic settlements off the west coast of Kerry. Only one bird (male 3) has been missing for some weeks, since late August, and has probably dispersed some distance as did male Star and female Fiadhna within weeks of release in 2009. An Irish Sea Eagle spotted just west of Loch Ness in the Scottish Highlands on 3 September and identified as turquoise tag 8 might have been blue tag 3 or 2009 green tag male R! Either way this is the 4th Irish released Sea Eagle spotted in Scotland. No doubt other Irish Sea Eagles have visited Scotland that we don?t know about. Several birds have been seen in Northern Ireland again this spring and summer as in 2008 and 2009 including 2008 male Z, and 2009 males Star and <. Most reports have come from north-east Antrim, the nearest bit of land to Scotland, so it would be amazing if birds had not made the short trip over the water to the Mull of Kintyre as at least 3 birds did in 2009.
One exciting development over recent weeks has been at least two Sea Eagles with WHITE tails. We were lucky enough to see one soaring over Glena bay on Lough Leane on 30 September and female X near Mangerton Mountain on 8 September. Both these were hatched in Norway in 2007 and are now in their 4th calendar year. Although their tail feathers are not completely white (see the dark tips to the feathers in the photo) the tails appear pure white at any distance. Along with the paler head and lemon yellow bill it is exciting to see Irish released birds finally beginning to reach physiological maturity. Female X had spent at least part of the winter of 2008/09 in the Scottish Highlands where she was seen feeding on a fish on a frozen lake in Feb 2009. She was back in Kerry by May 2009 and was last seen on Mangerton in August 2009, over a year ago. Another 2007 released bird, male 9 (Ollie!), has been largely resident on Lough Currane although he disappeared for a while and visited Killarney for a few days and may be the bird photographed by Brendan Marnell on 31 August over Lough Leane (see photo). Ollie is back on Currane where he is regularly seen by the local gillies with fishing parties on the lake. Earlier in the year he had apparently been paired with a 2008 released red tag female but she disappeared in early May and has not been seen since. Hopefully she didn't fall foul of poison left on a carcass on a hillside somewhere. It would be tragic to think that Ollie had lost a potential mate with breeding a possibility next year or the year after. Here?s hoping Ollie isn't alone for too long!
WHERE TO GO TO SPOT SEA EAGLES? I get this question alot as more and more people are interested in seeing wild Irish White-tailed Sea Eagles for themselves. At the moment the best places to look for sea eagles are:
Lough Leane, Killarney. Best to go on one of the 'Gap' boats (heading to the Upper Lake) that operate from Ross Castle, Killarney. They usually start about 1030am and the trip to the Upper Lake takes about an hour. You can either walk back through the Gap of Dunloe, take a pony and trap through the Gap, walk back via the Kerry Way through Derrycunnihy oakwook, or return by boat.
Upper Lake-Black Valley. Always a good area to spot eagles especially from the Kerry Way round the Upper Lake or at the west end of the Black Valley.
Lough Currane, Waterville: Usually hold one or more birds. The best spots to view the lake are along the Glen More road on the south side of the lake. Birds from Currane also visit Derrynane cove from time to time.
Mangerton Mountain. Anywhere on Mangerton but especially the south side of the mountain and along the Kilgarvan-Clonkeen road (where it joins the main Cork-Killarney road) is worth a look.
WHERE TO STAY: Lots of hotels and B & Bs in Killarney, Kenmare, and Beaufort with some great deals at the moment. Folk at the Lake Hotel are especially keen and knowledgeable on the Sea Eagles (and have supported the Golden Eagle Trust!) so check out www.lakehotel.com
Black Valley hostel is open from 1 March-31 October. Its run by Eileen and Michael (Dikey) Tangney and family and has a small shop for all the basics.
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