Green O was noted in Glenveagh National Park on the 5th, but was absent by the 7th and noted in the Blue Stacks on the 9th, 11th, 12th and 15th before it was seen back at the food dumps in Glenveagh on the 17th October. Red F roosted in forestry below Benbulbin, Sligo on the 6th and was seen on the higher slopes of Benbulbin by Joe Kavanagh on the 8th at 5.30pm. There was a report of a Golden Eagle flying high over Sligo Town, 11 km south of Benbulbin, at 4pm on the same day.
A radio signal from Green T (the bird that left Glenveagh in August) was noted from the 10km Square around Lough Salt on the 22nd. The radio signal volume was variable suggesting movement i.e. that the bird was alive.
During the autumn the project team became aware of a rumour that some Hooded Crows, Ravens and a bird with ‘a pouch on its back’ were shot whilst scavenging at sheep carcasses left on the hill. We were concerned that the pouch may refer to a radio back pack on an eagle. Golden Eagles and Ravens are fully protected under the Irish Wildlife Acts. The matter was investigated fully by the NPWS and it turned out to be based on second hand information that lacked crucial details such as names, location and date. However, we would like to take this opportunity to request that all eagle sightings and any rumours of dead eagles be passed on to the project team as soon as possible. A quick email or phone call with the relevant details would be greatly appreciated. Given that the status of each bird, in such a small population, is so important - it would be unfortunate if significant data went unrecorded, especially from outlying areas.
Ken Crane and Kate Nellist, who were instrumental in the collecting 20% of the released Irish Golden Eagles, from Skye, visited the programme in October. During their visit we noted a pair of yellow-tagged eagles on the wing. There was a noticeable size difference between the male and female. They later saw one of the eagles chase a Buzzard, before one of the eagles went into an undulating flight and displayed with 3 steep dives before going out of sight. They also saw both eagles talon grappling. One of the birds was identified as Yellow 2 Spots from its radio signal and the second bird appeared not to have an operating radio transmitter. It may be Yellow Diagonal Bar, the female that associated with Yellow 2 Spots last spring. Yellow 3 Spots was radio tracked near Lough Derg, on the Donegal Fermanagh border on the 10th October.
Red K was in moult when seen near Glenveagh on the 20th October. Eddie Dunne, a wildlife photographer, noted Blue O attending the food dump in Glenveagh on the 21st October in association with the green-tagged birds. There were no signals from this bird in the surrounding area on the 20th or the 22nd, suggesting it was a very brief visit. Blue 5 was noted east of the Park on the 27th and Blue O was radio tracked toward the Bluestacks on the same day.
On the 27th October the discarded radio transmitter from Red T was recovered from a hillside in the Derryveagh Mountains. The transmitter was probably dropped in August/September, 12 or 13 months after it was attached. The cotton stitching had rotted away and the Teflon ribbons, holding the radio transmitter in place, had opened out. This is the first evidence that the released birds can drop their radios. While it is reassuring to know that the backpacks will fall off in time, it is disappointing that this radio only stayed in place for little over a year. Some radios are still attached after 3 years.
35 Golden Eagles have been released in Glenveagh over the last four years. Based on our experience to date, we may be able to collect and release 10-12 birds next year, which would still leave us short of our original target of releasing 60-75 birds over five years. Since July 2004, 21 of the birds released in Glenveagh have been noted alive. Two of the 35 birds have been recovered dead, so the Irish Golden Eagle population contains 21-33 birds at present.
Joe Kavanagh, Sligo Birdwatch Ireland, provided significant radio tracking data for the above repor.