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Fri22nd Jan 2016

Star has been on the move over much of the winter with periods of some weeks when he settles down near one of the Midland’s loughs, a far cry from his former breeding site in south-west Connemara. As the map shows Star hasn’t been back ‘home’ to Connemara since September 2015. In late autumn, up to early-mid Oct 2015 Star was in the north-west flitting between Roscommon, east Mayo and north-east Galway (red track on map). On 12-13 Oct he made a brief trip north to Ballysadare Bay, Co. Sligo, an old stomping ground of his that he last visited back in the winter of 2009-2010! On 22 Oct he headed SE to Lough Ree then east to Lough Ennell/Owel on 25 Oct where he remained until 22-23 Nov, when he headed SE into Laois and Kildare before reaching one of his favourite haunts over the years, along the Arklow river near Woodenbridge, Co. Wicklow (green track). On 27 Nov he headed east over the Wicklow Mts to Pollaphuca/Blessington Lakes and back to the Midland’s lakes the next day.

Star remained in the Ennell-Owel area of Westmeath throughout Dec. Then on 28 Dec he began a mini trip of Midland bogs (sky blue track) with a visit to Clara, Co. Offaly, Rosenallis, Laois next day, Athy and Dunnstown, Co. Kildare on 30th and 31 Dec then back to the Midland lakes on the first day of 2016. On 5 Jan Star headed south into the Slieve Blooms hills, east into Laois and back to Co. Wicklow on 7 Jan to roost near the village of Redcross (dark blue track). On 10 Jan he headed NW over the mountains again to near Manor Kilbride then on to roost in a small bog just north of Prosperous, Kildare next day before returning to the Midland lakes.

On 16 Jan Star headed east to Lough Ree, then west on 21 Jan to the Corrib for the first time this winter, roosting near Moycullen (purple track). So is Star going to revisit his old territory in Connemara? Will he find a female to replace his lost mate? Watch this space....!! 

Star tracks 1 Oct-22 Jan 2016
Sun15th Mar 2015

 The Golden Eagle Trust, Irish Raptor Study Group and BirdWatch Ireland have formed an exciting conservation partnership and collectively are co-ordinating the 2015 Irish Hen Harrier Survey for the National Parks & Wildlife Service of the Department of Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht.

The hen harrier is protected by the EU Birds Directive and listed on Annex 1 and as such monitoring, research and protected areas are a vital component for the conservation of the species. In addition, survey and monitoring data collected during national surveys are vitally important as these data are used by the government and other agencies to help inform management and conservation decisions. Several declines were recorded during the last survey in 2010 and it is important that we re-survey to establish the status of the species in Ireland.

Similar to previous years the survey will cover all suitable hen harrier habitats within 10km grid squares during the breeding season (April to August) and perhaps you would like to undertake the same squares you participated in during the previous surveys. New surveyors are very welcome and training will be provided during some nationwide workshops later this month.

We would like to invite you to participate in the upcoming survey and hope you will enjoy the fieldwork and the collection of this important data. We hope you will consider volunteering to support this conservation task and hope you will all be able to cover a 10km square (or two) or perhaps put together your own small team and cover a number of squares. Standardised methods will be available at the workshops and by email.

We look forward to working with all of you over the coming months. If there is anything you need from us for in relation to the survey please feel free to contact any of us at any time by email or by phone, contact details below.  

We also invite you to attend any (or all) of the up-coming survey training workshops which will cover hen harrier ecology, methods, reporting and other research opportunities during the course of the survey.  These workshops will also allow people to meet other fieldworkers and discuss the methods and survey requirements. Survey material will be available at the workshops, but we will also forward potential survey allocations, recording forms and detailed survey instructions electronically in due course. If you wish to participate in the survey but are unable to attend any of the workshops, please let us know and we will forward all information electronically.

Participation on the workshops is free. Whilst numbers are not limited, we ask you to indicate your preferred venue and date and register in order that we may estimate numbers of participants with the hotels for catering purposes. Please browse through the workshop material and then follow the instructions on the booking form to confirm your preferred venue or correspondence details for electronic communication in relation to the surveys.


Dr Marc Ruddock                                            Dr Allan Mee                             Mr John Lusby

Tel. +353 (0) 873578590                                 Tel: +353 (0) 873117608           Tel. +353 (0) 85 7201892

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In order to book a place on one of the workshops please click on the following link:



Workshops will be taking place at:


1) Charleville. Charleville Park Hotel, Main Limerick Road, Co. Cork.Saturday 21st March 2015.

Web: www.charlevilleparkhotel.com                             Phone: +353(0) 6333700


2) Charleville. Charleville Park Hotel, Main Limerick Road, Co. Cork.Monday 23rd March 2015.

Web: www.charlevilleparkhotel.com                             Phone: +353(0) 6333700


3) Athlone. Hodson Bay Hotel Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Saturday 21st March 2015.

Web: www.hodsonbayhotel.com                                     Phone: +353 (0) 906442000


4) Gort. Lady Gregory Hotel. Ennis Road, Gort, Co. Galway, Monday 23rd March 2015.

Web: www.ladygregoryhotel.ie                                      Phone: +353 (0) 91632333


5) Donegal. Mill Park Hotel. The Mullins, Donegal Town, Co. Donegal. Tuesday 24th March.

Web: www.millparkhotel.com                                        Phone: +353 (0) 749722880


6) Cavan. Errigal Country House Hotel, Cavan Road, Cavan Town, Co. Cavan Wednesday 25th March 2015

Web: www.errigalhotel.com                                            Phone: +353 (0) 495556904


7) Wicklow. Wicklow Mountains National Park, Kilafin, Laragh, Co. Wicklow. Wednesday 8th April 2015.

Web: www.wicklowmountainsnationalpark.ie            Phone: +353 (0) 40445800



Parking is available at all locations free of charge


Participants will be provided with tea/coffee on arrival, lunch is not provided but all hotels can cater for lunch at reasonable rates.


Accommodation is not included and participants are responsible for making their own arrangements, if required.


Participants will need to bring a notebook and pen to the workshop. Hand-outs (hard copy and electronic data sheets) will be provided.



0930 - 1000am    Arrival & Tea/Coffee

1000am    Hen Harrier Ecology (Short break 1130)

·         Description

-Physical characteristics



·         Behaviour

-Breeding biology

-Dispersal & survival

-Winter ecology

·         Population & status


-Conservation status

- Population size

-Population distribution

National Hen Harrier Survey 2015

·         Introduction

-Aims & objectives

-Licensing & disturbance

-Access issues

·         Field surveys

-Defining the survey area

-Timing of surveys

-Available resources

-Habitat mapping

-Health & safety

·         Establishing territory occupancy

·         Establishing breeding outcome

-Proof of breeding


-Classifying nest habitat

·         Other behaviours & habitat

·         Data recording & reporting

Other Recording

·         Recording threats and pressures in the area

·         Recording other priority bird species

·         Recording of prey or feather samples

1230pm   Survey area allocation

1330pm   Summation & Close

Standardised recording forms, method statements and maps will be available at the workshops, but will also be circulated electronically to all survey participants.

Hen Harrier pair
Thu26th Feb 2015

Sad end to a beautiful bird. The remains of our much travelled 2011 release male White-tailed Eagle Ingar was recently recovered from in Fermanagh. Unfortunately not much was left by the time the bird was reported to us by the landowner who found the bird. Its GPS satellite transmitter had stopped transmitting in early Dec but we hoped it was still ok as the transmitter had intermittent due to low light levels. Remains were collected and removed by the PSNI who today issued this statement:

"The remains of a white-tailed Eagle were recovered in Fermanagh on Saturday, February 7th in the Newbridge Road area of Lisnaskea. Const. Maurice Blair said, “Many people may not be aware that these birds are present in Fermanagh and that they are a protected species. We are working to establish the circumstances. If you can help please call the 101 number, quoting reference 6467215. Alternatively information can be passed via the independent Crimestoppers number on 0800 555 111.”

Ingar was almost 4 years old and spent most of 2014 on Upper & Lower Lough Erne. He was named Ingar (Norwegian name) and was released in Killarney National Park, Co Kerry, in 2014 as part of the reintroduction programme for the species managed by the Golden Eagle Trust in partnership with the National Parks & Wildlife Service. Given a chance he would have nested on one of the many islands on Lough Erne. Although we dont know the cause of death illegal poisoning has been the greatest mortality factor in Ireland. We urge anyone with any knowledge of the circumstances leading to the death of this bird to contcat the PSNI


Ingar remains
Thu16th Oct 2014

Since she fledged from her nest on Lough Derg on 26 July, WTSE chick Aoibheall has been slowly expanding her range and exploring her environment. She made one trip 9 kilometres south-west to the edge of the Slieve Bernagh mountains in south-east Clare and more recently visited the Tipperary side of the lough. However she still seems keen to return to base most days near Mountshannon where her parents, Caimin (2008 red tag Y) and Saoirse (2009 green tag %) are still no doubt bring her fish. The 2013 chicks left the area on or around the end of September so it’ll be interesting to see how long she stays around. Maybe being an ‘only chick’ she will stay much of the winter, having no competition for food and parents who are still attentive.

Watch this space for more tales of Aoibheall’s movements and the other satellite-tagged WTSEsmiley

The map shows her movements based on satellite data transmitted via the Argos satellite system and is usually 1-3 days behind real time, depending on when it was downloaded.

Aoibheall sat data_13oct14
Wed8th Oct 2014

Aoibheall was hatched and reared in the wild in Ireland at a nest near Mountshannon in east Clare in 2014, only the third White-tailed Sea Eagle to fly from a nest in Ireland since the reintroduction programme began. Aoibheall is a young female, the only chick in her brood in 2014, and carries the number 2 on her wing tag (orange tag on the left and purple tag on right wing). She flew from the nest on 26 July at over 12 weeks old and over the next few months remained in the area of her nest site where she has been attended to and fed by her parents: 2008 red tag male Caimin and 2009 green tag female Saoirse. Caimin and Saoirse also nested in 2012 and 2013, rearing two chicks successfully in 2013. Both Caimin and Saoirse were hatched in nests on the island of Frøya, Norway, and were collected under licence and released in Killarney National Park, Co. Kerry.

According to folklore Aoibheall was a legendary Bean Sí (fairy woman) from East Clare who appeared to the High King Brian Ború on the eve of the Battle of Clontarf. Here is what the Clare Library website has to say about her:

"According to the author of the Cogaidh Gaeil re Gaill a supernatural female, Aoibheall of Craglea, near Killaloe, the legendary patroness or Badhb of the Dal Cais appeared to Brian Boru in his tent on the eve of the Battle of Clontarf to forewarn him of his death on the following day. Sean Mac Craith, the fifteenth-century chronicler of the wars of Turlough O'Brien, refers to another female - a washer of blood-stained clothes - who appeared at the most turbulent and life-threatening times in the life of his hero. Thomas Westropp found that belief in this tradition was still extant until well into the present century. A local legend in the Dysert area told how Aoibheall and twenty-five banshees washed blood-stained clothes in Rath Lake on the eve of the famous battle in 1318 at which Richard De Clare was killed, and that they still do so in times of crisis."

Aoibheall the White-tailed Sea Eagle can be followed on our website and on Facebook (Golden Eagle Trust). She carries a satellite transmitter that we hope will be able to track her movements over the next few years, hopefully right up to the time she herself starts to nest in the wild!

Because locations such as roosting and future nesting sites are sensitive to disturbance by humans we will be showing her general (daytime) movements only. Her satellite transmitter is solar powered so although we receive multiple GPS locations in summer, by mid-winter this is down to only two locations as the unit is programmed to do this to save battery power.

Slán agus beannacht leat a Aoibheall, go neirí an spéir leatJ

Aoibheall takes off
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