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Mon5th Jul 2004

Having returned from Scotland and after a few days radio tracking, several of the 2003 Golden Eagle cohort were noted in the Derryveagh Mountains. Red C, which had last been recorded in early March, was noted on a single day near Slieve Snaght, Derryveagh Mountains on the 7th July. Red F was noted between Slieve Toohey and Slieve League on the 7-8th July. Red K, T and X were noted in the Derryveagh Mountains later in July. Red A was recorded in Leitrim again, after a 10 - week absence, in early August. So at least 6 of the 11 birds released in 2003 had survived their first year (up to 1st June 2004). We expect this 66% first year survival rate is an underestimate as several birds are probably alive outside of the release area. There were two unconfirmed Golden Eagle sightings on Achill Island, County Mayo in late July and early August.

On the 6th July an Osprey was seen over Lough Veagh in the Park. The Osprey even elicited some food begging calls from one of the captive chicks. In late July an immature Buzzard was noted in Glenveagh and a juvenile Hen Harrier was seen on the eastern edge of the park in early August. Peregrines and Merlins bred successfully in the Park this year, as did Kestrels and Sparrowhawks.

9 of the 10 chicks were radio tagged, wing tagged and measured on the 10th August and released on the 13th August. The tenth bird has a leg injury but we hope to release it before the end of August.

As requested by several people in Scotland, we attach a simple map of Ireland so that they can better appreciate the dispersal patterns of the Golden Eagles released in Glenveagh National Park, in Northwest County Donegal. So far there have been confirmed records of Golden Eagles from Glenveagh in Counties Sligo, Leitrim, Derry/Londonderry, Tyrone and Fermanagh. There have been several Golden Eagle records over the last year, probably relating to birds from Glenveagh, in the former eagle strongholds of Counties Mayo, Galway, Kerry and also County Clare.

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Sun6th Jun 2004

As in previous years and due to a combination of reasons there was a decrease in eagle activity recorded during June. Blue O was noted in the Blue Stacks on the 11th and 17th July.

10 young Golden Eagles were collected from Scotland between the 14th June and 1st July 2004 during two separate trips. Five birds came from the Western Isles, including Skye, Mull and Canna and a further five were collected in Tayside, Angus, Badenoch and Morayshire. We would like to acknowledge the support and co-operation of the Scottish Raptor Study Groups (especially the Highland, Argyll, Tayside, Central, Strathclyde and Uists Groups), the Highland Foundation for Wildlife, The National Trust for Scotland, the Forestry Commission, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in monitoring and collecting the donor stock. We are grateful for the support of numerous landowners, estate managers, gamekeepers and deer stalkers who facilitated the collection process. We would also like to thank Scottish Natural Heritage, who licensed the project. As in previous years, 80-100 individuals across Scotland enabled and facilitated the project’s efforts to re-establish Golden Eagles in Ireland this season.

The chicks are collected from some of the most productive nests in Scotland – those that can rear two chicks. For example, one nest in Badenoch, which had two chicks, also contained a third unhatched egg. There was an ample food supply in this home range and during the nest visit the remains of 19 Mountain Hares, 7 grouse, a Weasel and a Meadow Pipit were recorded.

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Wed5th May 2004

Five of the eleven birds released in 2003 were located in the Northwest during May. Five others have not been radio tracked since February or March and are presumed to have dispersed. The eleventh bird has a failed radio transmitter and has not been located recently. Red F was noted in the Blue Stacks and the Derryveagh Mountains during May. Red K, N and T were constantly found visiting different upland sites in the Derryveagh Mountains during the month also.

Red A was noted in the Blue Stacks on the 1-2nd May but had moved to County Fermanagh, near Tappaghan Mountain by the 3rd May. By the 19th it was radio tracked in the direction of the Ox Mountains, County Sligo and follow up radio tracking suggested it was actually further southwest possibly in the Nephin Beg Range in County Mayo by the 21st May.

There were no signs of territoriality noted during May. Yellow Diagonal Bar was not noted during the entire summer. Yellow Two Spots was radio tracked loafing and later roosting some 14km from its perceived home range centre in mid May. Subsequent radio tracking suggested it was moving around a wide area rather than settled or roosting in a favoured part of its territory. Blue O was radio tracked and seen in the Blue Stacks on the 21st May. Another Golden Eagle was reported from Inishboifin Island, County Mayo on the 16th May.

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Fri5th Mar 2004

Yellow Two Spots and Yellow Diagonal Bar’s radio signals were noted near each other during early March. Blue 0, 5 and 8 were again located from various parts of the Derryveagh, Glendowan and Blue Stack Mountains during the month. All three birds were roaming over wide areas and were not settled in any one area for more than a week or so.

On the 1st March there was a faint signal from Red A in the north Leitrim direction. Red F was seen foraging over a young plantation in the Blue Stacks (which appear to be a favoured habitat for young eagles) probably in search of hares. Red C, O, T and X were still in Glenveagh on the 2nd March. Red T was seen flying one evening from the open mountain to roost in a mature Sitka Spruce around an enclosed field in Glendowan. I managed to show a small farmer/retired schoolteacher the eagle on his property and he was absolutely thrilled with the views. Red T subsequently roosted on a dead tree on the edge of the Park from 22-25th March, but I was unable to find any pellets under either roosting place.

Red F’s signal was noted to the east of the Barnesmore Gap, toward the Tyrone border on the 8th March. Red C’s signal was coming from the SE of Truskmore Mountain, Sligo, probably from County Leitrim, on the same day.

A red-tagged (1st year, prob. C) eagle and blue-tagged (2nd year, prob. X) were seen flying and soaring in unison in Derryveagh on the 3rd March. On the 9th March Red O, a first year C, was seen in a mutual high soaring flight with a blue-tagged, second year, male eagle. The female then landed on a summit below. The male bird alighted nearby and tried to mount and copulate with the first year female. However she repeatedly spurned his advances over a five minutes spell by moving to face him constantly. 40 minutes later she flew away and then picked up a stick and hung into the wind for the next 10 minutes repeatedly dropping and catching the stick. The second year male was later seen in a brief undulating display flight before landing on a tree, where it made several unsuccessful attempts to forcefully snap off a piece of a branch with its talons.

On the 25th March a Sligo Mountain Rescue volunteer reported disturbing a large bird of prey from the NW cliff face of Knocknaree Mountain (on the peninsula west of Sligo town). This unconfirmed eagle sighting may indicate how the released birds could pass in a southwesterly direction from the Dartry Mountains in Leitrim to the Ox mountains in Sligo and beyond to Mayo and Galway.

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Thu5th Feb 2004

In general the 2002 and 2003 golden eagle cohorts were more sedentary during their first winter than the initial cohort released in 2001. The first red kite cohorts released in Northern and Central Scotland tended to be more dispersive than subsequent cohorts in both these release programmes also. The presence of some older birds probably helped anchor more of the newly released young in subsequent years. The release and presence of larger numbers of birds in the second and subsequent release years in North Scotland and Glenveagh may also have been a factor.

We stopped feeding the young eagles on the 25th January 2004 in the hope that there would be more dispersal this spring. We do not feel the Derryveagh Mountains could easily sustain up to 11 immature golden eagles and we did not want the birds to become overly dependent on food dumps. By early February there was a noticeable decrease in the presence of first year birds in Glenveagh, only Red F, O and T appeared to be present. By 3rd February, Red K was recorded over the Glendowan Mountains, Red H was over the Aghla Mountains and Red C was noted south of Fintown – all to the south of Glenveagh. Red A and Red L were recorded from the Blue Stacks on the 7th and 9th February. Red H, Red N Red T and Red O were noted roosting in the Park on the 9th or 12th February. Some of the birds were initially wandering up to 30km away before occasionally returning to the release area.

On the 16th February Red A had moved to County Leitrim, where it was radio tracked by Joe Kavanagh near Glenaniff and seen subsequently. The bird was known to have stayed in the Dartry Mountains, south of Lough Melvin for at least 5 days. Red C was in the Blue Stacks by the 20th February. Red L was in the Aghla Mountains at the time, while Red C, K, O, T and X remained predominantly in the Derryveagh/Glendowan Mountains. Red F was recorded from South Donegal between the 21st -23rd February, Red N was in the Blue Stacks from the 20th –29th February but Red H was not recorded after the 10th February. Red S was seen in the Park on the 10th February. Blue 0, 5 and 8 were noted regularly in either the Derryveagh or Blue Stack Mountains during the month.

On the 3rd February a third year male, Yellow Two Spots and probably a third year female (possibly Yellow Diagonal Bar) were seen soaring and gliding together. The same male was seen on the 23rd skydiving (undulating display flight) and mutual high soaring with a second bird in the same area. Yellow Three Spots was recorded 4 times during the month also.

Aongheus O Domhnaill (a member of the National Parks and Wildlife Service staff in Glenveagh) observed the following and several other records within this quarterly report. On the 21st February, a red-tagged golden eagle was seen in the Derryveagh range taking off with a small piece of vegetation. It then proceeded to repeatedly drop and attempt to catch the clump of vegetation over a 10-minute period, making 32 catching attempts in all. Most catching attempts were unsuccessful, the bird often dropping the clumps too close to the ground to allow sufficient time to retrieve it from the air. It also had difficulty in dropping the clump cleanly and often used the other talon to dislodge the clump. A blue-tagged female then appeared and started an undulating display flight. Half an hour later she reappeared and was suddenly approached by another blue-tagged bird (a probable male), which flew toward it at speed and in an aggressive manner. The female rolled over and locked talons with the aggressor in mid air and both birds cartwheeled 7-8 times before being lost from view where they may have come to ground, out of sight.

During the month a cameraman, Brian Black, was extremely lucky and managed to get some footage of an adult fox jumping up and snapping at Red O, which was hovering above it. We were watching the eagle continuously returning to the same spot on the slopes of Glenveagh and wondering what was attracting it. We had a sudden glimpse of something under the eagle, but we were not sure if the bird had dropped something or an animal had jumped at it. It was only when Brian saw the footage on screen that he realised it was a fox. It is an extraordinary and very fortuitous piece of footage.

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