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Mon5th Jan 2004

On the 5th January Blue 8 was noted in the Glendowan Mountains and Blue 4 was radio tracked in the Blue Stack Mountains.

Blue 3‘s radio signal was picked up in Glenveagh on the 12th January. The signal lasted less then 10 seconds as if the bird was flying just outside of the glen. Despite further radio tracking, Blue 3 was not recorded since this brief encounter.

Through an article in an Irish tourism magazine, I received an email from a very experienced ornithologist from the USA, with a reliable record of a second year Golden Eagle on Sliabh Elva in the Burren, County Clare on the 27th September 2003. No wing tags were noted. This may tie in with an immature Golden Eagle seen near Letterfrack National Park, Galway in June and July 2003 and the immature bird seen north of Killarney, Kerry in December.

The provision of supplementary food dumps stopped at the end of January. We can expect greater dispersal this year as 11 first year birds leave Glenveagh National Park. The older established birds are likely to push the first year birds further a field. Yellow Two Spot, a three-year old male, has been within an area, approx 13km wide, for 6 months now and seems to have established a territory.

The minimum known first year survival rate is 78 % and the revised second year survival rate is 80%.

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Fri5th Dec 2003

Yellow Horizontal Bar had been noted regularly near the park during October and November. Despite specific radio tracking searches for this bird it was not recorded during December or January. It would be disappointing if this three-year old female died. It may have dispersed in search of a better territory, in search of an established male or due to the presence of a large number of first year eagles. Alternatively, its transmitter/ battery may have failed and it could still be in the vicinity.

Red T was back in the Park on the 3rd December and Red S’s radio transmitter was heard working intermittently in the Park. Blue 8 and Blue 9 were noted at separate locations on the western Derryveagh Mountains on the same day.

The eagles attended the food dump opposite Glenveagh Castle most mornings but they did not frequent this area during the day. This low-lying site is near the bottom of Glenveagh where the glen begins to opens out. They spent more time loafing near the narrow head of the glen, which is at a higher altitude. Conversely, the Castle food dump regularly attracted 15-20 Hooded Crows during the day; whereas only 1-2 crows were occasionally seen at the food dumps in the head of the glen.

In early December Joe Kavanagh, a Birdwatch Ireland member from Leitrim, began to assist with radio tracking. Joe located Yellow Three Spot and Blue 0 in the eastern Blue Stacks on the 2nd. The next day they were recorded roosting there and Blue 5 was located on Boultypatrick, roosting in the remaining edge of a mature forestry block, which had been largely clear felled.

All the first year birds had been away from the Park, for at least short periods by 10th December. The second year eagles were quite nomadic and moved regularly between the Derryveagh and Blue Stack Mountains and elsewhere.

Frank King from Birdwatch Ireland received two separate visual records of an immature Golden Eagle in County Kerry in mid December. The sightings were east of Tralee and north of Killarney and were several days apart. We cannot confirm it was one of the released Golden Eagles. It is approx 330 km (over 200 miles) from Glenveagh National Park to North Kerry.

Red S was seen at the food dump on 18th and its transmitter was not working. Red A was seen foraging on the heather slopes of Errigal (Ulster’s highest mountain at 752m), in between the scree, on the same day.

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Wed5th Nov 2003

In early November 10 of the 11 first year birds were regularly located by radio in Glenveagh National Park. The remaining bird, Red S, had a faulty radio transmitter. The food dumps were frequently moved around the park and the eagles normally located the food dumps within a day or two. The eagles were even enticed to a food dump across Lough Veagh opposite Glenveagh Castle, but there were few public visitors present each morning to enjoy the spectacle.

Yellow Horizontal Bar and Blue 4 were seen in the park with 7 first year birds on the 6th November. Red S was seen feeding the following day. Blue 0 was noted near Lough Barra on the 10th and Blue 9, the weak bird from 2002, was recorded near Dunlewey on the western edge of the park.

By mid November, Red T, Red X, Red O, Red K and Red L had been away from the park for brief spells whereas Red A, Red C and Red F were more sedentary. Red T had left the park by the 17th November and was located near Lough Salt on the 26th November. Blue 4 was in the Park again on the 22nd and 24th. Yellow Horizontal Bar and Blue 8 were noted to the east of the Park on the 24th also and Yellow Two Spots was located roosting on the 24th also.

Yellow Two Spots and Yellow Diagonal Bar were noted roosting on the same hillside after dark on 25th November. Yellow Diagonal Bar was last recorded in April and had not been noted since. Its radio transmitter may be failing. The same evening Blue 8 was noted east of the park roosting in some mature Larch trees (a known Raven nest site) on the edge of Meenaboll Forest.

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Sun5th Oct 2003

Despite full days radio tracking in the Glencolumbkille Peninsula, SW Donegal and the Inishowen Peninsula, North Donegal only four of the 13 older birds were noted in Donegal during September. However on the 2nd of October, Blue 0 was noted in the Blue Stack Mountains and Blue 8 was seen and recorded in the Derryveagh Mountains for the first time since 23rd May. Yellow Horizontal Bar was noted going to roost in Glenveagh that evening at 7.23 pm and was noted near the food dump the following morning.

Most of the feeding at the food dump occurred between 8am and 12 noon. There was another bout of feeding before dusk between 5.30pm and 6.30pm. Though the birds were seen at the food dump as early as 7.40am and occasionally throughout the day. The males tended to wander away from the park during early October though most returned to roost each evening. Red T was last noted in the Park on the 26th September but was found to the south of the Derryveagh Mountains on the 2nd October and was still there on the 17th. It was absent from Glenveagh for the remainder of the month.

Blue 4 and Blue 5 were noted behind the Glenveagh Waterfall on the 13th. During a spell of fine autumnal weather, on the 16th of October, Yellow Horizontal Bar, Blue 4 and
3 red -tagged eagles were noted soaring over the waterfall for 10-12 minutes. In fact 6 of the red-tagged birds joined in the soaring eagle display at separate times. On the 18th seven of this year’s birds were seen soaring and talon grappling over the waterfall. On the 27th three of the red-tagged birds were flushed from a dead sheep by a farmer in the Glendowan Mountains.

The attached table gives an update on the status of each released eagle. In summary, 26 Golden Eagles have been imported over the last three years. One has been placed in long-term care in Dublin Zoo and 25 have been released. Of the released birds, one is known to have died. Of the 24 remaining birds, 18 have been recorded during October and the status of the remaining 6 is unknown. Two were last recorded in April, two in May and two in July. We suspect these birds have not been detected recently due to a combination of dispersal, radio failure and mortality. We hope that some of these birds will be located over the winter and we appeal for any eagle sightings you have or have heard off to be passed on to the project via the web page.

5 out of 6 birds from the 2001 cohort survived their first year (83%). A minimum of 6 out of 8 birds from the 2002 cohort survived their first year (75%) – the remaining two birds were recorded two weeks before their first birthday and we suspect they too survived their first year. A minimum of 3 out of the 5 second year birds survived their second year (60%). Overall we are very pleased with the survival rates of the sedentary birds.

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Fri5th Sep 2003

It was noticeable that the heavier females were slower to take off from the food dumps, during misty and windless days, when disturbed. At times they appeared to be somewhat vulnerable. When placing food on the hillside the female wing tags were seen regularly whilst the males, if present, were recorded more often by their radio signals. Maybe the females also spend more time feeding at the food dumps. On one occasion Red L (a female) was flushed from the food dump and landed some distance away. It immediately started to walk up the slope through the molinia tussocks in an ungainly fashion. I walked toward it rather anxiously to ensure it was not carrying an injury. By now it had climbed 15-20m and walked out on a rocky outcrop and it simply launched itself off the vantage point. It flew comfortably and was feather perfect. Its large protruding crop was very evident.

Yellow Horizontal Bar was in the park on the 4th September and Blue 4 was noted near Slieve Snaght. Blue 4 and Blue 5 were noted near Dunlewy on the 18th September. All eleven newly released birds were recorded in the release area on the 19th. Between the 24th-26th September there was a noticeable decrease in the amount of carrion eaten at the food dump, suggesting the young birds had located and fed on a carcass elsewhere on the hill. Red T was last noted in the Park on the 26th September. Red N was seen soaring over the Glendowan Mountains on the 29th September.

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