Conall, a male Golden Eagle chick, was one of two wild bred chicks hatched and reared by released Golden Eagles in Glenveagh National Park in 2009. A male Golden Eagle, Blue 3, collected from the Isle of Skye in 2002 established a territory in Glenveagh in the spring of 2006 and was joined by a female, Yellow Diagonal Bar, collected from Assyant, Sutherland in 2001. They bred in 2007 and reared one chick, but failed to breed in 2008.
This pair laid two eggs, again in Glenveagh, in early March 2009. The first egg hatched in late April 2009 and the chick, a male, was called Conall. The second egg hatched 2-3 days later and the second chick was also a male. We removed the second chick after 4 days and reared it for several weeks with a falconer in an effort to ensure both chicks fledged. Over 90% of second/younger Golden Eagle chicks die in the nest in Scottish Golden Eagle sites, as happened in Glenveagh in 2007.
Conall stayed in the nest throughout the remainder of April, May and June until fledging in early July. The nest was on a well sheltered ledge. However during a particularly cold and wet period in mid May, the adult female was seen to stand over Conall, which was sitting in the nest, as wind driven heavy rain blew horizontally onto the nest. Conall was fed a variety of prey, including Hares, Badger Cubs, a Fox Cub and a single grouse. During its initial weeks the adults birds were usually to be found on the nest. But toward the end of the chick stage the adults only visited the nest briefly 3-4 times a day though they were often noted overlooking the eyrie from a distance.
Conall grew steadily throughout the 76 days before it fledged. On the 18th June Conall and its younger sibling were fitted with wing tags. A blue tag was put on the left wing and a red tag on the right wing. Conall has a number O in the middle of each tag. It was also fitted with a satellite tag, made by Microwave Telemetry. (Its younger sibling has a number 1, i.e. Blue Red 1 is its individual identification).
Conall left the eyrie in early July. It spent a day or two below the nest before moving uphill to sit and await food from the incoming adult eagles. Over the next few weeks Conall began to build up its flying ability. By early August it was able to soar briefly as it built up its own wing muscles and flying abilities. It younger sibling was usually in nearby attendance. We have had excellent satellite coverage of Conall's movements since then (July to October) but we decided against placing them on the Website, because they could lead to the discovery of the nearby nest and thereby lead to the disturbance of future breeding attempts.
Rather than identifying this Donegal bred Golden Eagle chick as Blue/Red O we decided to call him Conall. This is the first Donegal bred Golden Eagle chick to be fitted with a satellite transmitter. The old Irish name for County Donegal is Tír Chonaill (the land of Conall) ? so Conall seems an appropriate name for a Donegal male eagle. Check out this website regularly to find out his latest exciting movements, as Conall begins to explore the Hills of Donegal and beyond.
Evidence of breeding at this site was found on 27 June 2009 by John Lyden when activity and a food pass were observed. On 15 July we observed a food pass and the female carrying prey to the nest site allowing us to pin-point the location for a future visit (Kevin Collins, Allan Mee). Unlike Slievenamuck this breeding site in the Knockmeldown Mountains is classic heather moorland, a much reduced and sadly rare breeding habitat for harriers on Irish hills these days. The nest site itself was at 450m in heather although the Knockmeldowns rise to 794m at their highest point.
On 29 July Kevin Collins and Allan Mee visited the site and located the nest with three well-grown chicks. Although no adults were present initially both returned to the site later. Chicks were removed to some 5 metres from the nest to minimise trampling of vegetation around the nest during transmitter attachment. Based on biometrics (tarsus, weight) and iris colour the nest contained two male and one female chick. A 12g solar satellite transmitter was attached to the female. Chicks can be aged reasonably accurately by measuring their wing length. Thus we estimated that our female chick (202mm) was 24 days old and suitable for transmitter attachment. The rest of the brood ranged from 24-27 days old. The transmitter harness was prepared prior to the nest visit requiring at least four different sizes of neck collar and sternum loops to be made to fit a range of chick sizes. Thus, in the field the only stitching to be done is one double stitch. After attachment and taking biometrics (weight, wing, tarsus), sexing and attaching a metal BTO ring, we replaced all chicks together in the nest. Soon after leaving both adults returned to the nest site, at least one carrying prey while we were at the nest.
Although initially the data was too poor quality (Class 1, A, B etc) to estimate fledging and early movements around the nest site, the first good quality fix (Class 3) showed that this female had moved 6.2km ESE by 15 August. However, by late on 19 August the female had made a significant movement 153km NE to roost on the west site of the Great Sugar Loaf Mountain, Co. Wicklow! Watch out for the next exciting movements of this female by clicking on Maps and GPS Tracking and selecting female Hen Harrier Gráinne!
Many thanks to Cyril Saich, District Conservation Officer, National Parks & Wildlife Service, for all his help, encouragement, and permission to carry out this study which we hope will reveal much that is as yet unknown about the lives of Irish Hen Harriers.
Male "Star" hatched in mid to late-April on the island of Vikna 165 kilometres N of the city of Trondheim in west central Norway. In mid-June Star was collected from a ground nest on the skerries off Vikna by ornithologists Bertil Nyheim, S. Garstad, and F. Pedersen from Prosject Havørn (Project Sea Eagle). As with female F (Fiadhna), Star was temporarily housed at our holding site in a converted barn in Stjørdal only five minutes from Vaernes airport where he was expertly looked after by Tom Roger Østeras. On 26 June Star weighed 4.75 kilos and was estimated to be 10 weeks old based on his tail length.
On 27 June Star was flown from Trondheim to Kerry along with 19 other eaglets and was housed in a large cage in Killarney National Park with a Hitra male. On 4 August we attached PVC wing-tags (white on right and green on left) and a solar-powered GPS satellite transmitter. The 70g solar PTT-100 from Microwave Telemetry takes GPS fixes every hour during summer daylight hours with the data transmitted to Argos on day 3.
On 7 August Star was released along with eight other eaglets but took 1-2 hours to leave its ?nest'. That night Star roosted 600 metres away from the release site in dense oakwoods. The following day Star moved 2km NW then returned close to the release site but had flown 13 kilometres SE towards Lough Guitane on 10 August. On 11 August Star had moved back to Killarney town roosting that night four kilometres east of Lough Leane along the river Flesk. On 13 August Star moved up to the mouth of the Flesk before flying to roost on Innisfallen Island that evening. The next day Star moved to Brown Island on Lough Leane before roosting 13km N of the release site along the Killarney-Tralee railway line. On 15 August Star moved east before roosting 21km NE of the release site near Scartaglin. On 16 August Star moved east roosting just south of Mallow town, Co. Cork, 65km ENE of the release site. The following day Star moved NE over the Ballyhoura Mountains and into Co. Limerick, roosting 4km N of Kilfinane, 85km NE of the release site. By 19 August Star had moved into mid Co. Limerick before heading N to the river Shannon near Castleconnell. By 22 August Star moved N apparently along the Shannon towards Athlone, then Lough Ree-Lough Allen before reaching Mullaghmore on the coast of Co. Sligo, 282km NNE of the release site.
Watch out for the next exciting movements of Star by clicking on Maps and GPS Tracking and selecting male Star!
Female F (Fiadhna) hatched in mid-April on the island of Leka 190 kilometres NNW of the city of Trondheim in west central Norway. In mid-June Fiadhna was collected on Leka from a cliff nest site by ornithologists Bertil Nyheim, S. Garstad, and F. Pedersen from Prosject Havørn (Project Sea Eagle). Before transport to Kerry, Fiadhna was temporarily housed at our holding site in a converted barn in Stjørdal only five minutes from Vaernes airport where it was expertly looked after by Tom Roger Østeras. On 26 June Fiadhna weighed 5.8 kilos and was estimated to be 10 weeks old based on her tail length.
On 27 June Fiadhna was flown from Trondheim to Kerry along with 19 other eaglets and was housed in a large cage in Killarney National Park with a Frøya female. On 4 August we attached PVC wing-tags (white on right and green on left) and a solar-powered GPS satellite transmitter. The 70g solar PTT-100 from Microwave Telemetry takes GPS fixes every hour during summer daylight hours with the data transmitted to Argos on day 3.
On 7 August Fiadhna was released along with eight other eaglets. Unlike eagles released in previous years which have largely remained on the west shore of Lough Leane in Killarney for the first few weeks after release, Fiadhna flew 2.5km across the lake to Innisfallen Island, an ancient monastic settlement, where she remained for the next three nights. On 10 August Fiadhna moved east onto the "mainland" remaining in the Demense-Knockreer area until 14 August when she moved north of Killarney town. On 16 August Fiadhna left Kerry flying some 110km east to the Comeragh Mountains in south Tipperary, dispersing even further over the next few days.
Fiadhna is named after 10 year old Fiadhna Tangney who lives in the Black Valley in Co. Kerry. Fiadhna helped paint the wing tags for the eagles and has a great love of the birds. Fiadhna (the eagle) has been an adventurous bird in her first weeks since release. Check out this website regularly to find out her latest exciting movements. We hope that in five years time Fiadhna will be nesting and rearing chicks of her own somewhere in Kerry!
Go n-éirí an spéir leat!
Two Golden Eagle chicks were fitted with Satellite tags prior to release in 2005. Orange 3 remained within the Derryveagh Mountains for most of the winter. It occasionally wandered over to Meenirroy and Cark Mountain to the east in late 2005. During early 2006 it was found predominantly on the western edge of Glenveagh and to the west of Slieve Snacht, where it was located for most of February. It appeared to be quite sedentary and it apparently was roosting in the same area for several weeks. For a few weeks it stayed around Crolly, Donegal around March 25-Apr 10 before moving on again. The transmitter has now stopped sending out signals.
(info from the GE newsletter 2006, with corrections from April 2009)
Two Golden Eagle chicks were fitted with Satellite tags prior to release in 2005. The second satellite tagged bird, Orange 4, has had several distinct foraging areas during its first year. It spent some time in the SW of Donegal between Glengesh, Slieve Toohey, Slieve League and Mulnanaff before skipping eastward onto the Blue Stacks. It spent several weeks wandering all around the Sperrins, between Omagh and Dungiven, and other small adjoining hills in Northern Ireland. This bird is now back in south Donegal and we eagerly await to see its autumnal movements.
(info from the GE newsletter 2006)
Female E hatched in late April 2008 at a nest at Flatoya on the island of Frøya 80-90klm NW of the city of Trondheim in west central Norway. On 16th June E was one of five chicks collected on Frøya by ornithologists Bertil Nyheim, S. Garstad, and F. Pedersen from Prosject Havørn (Project Sea Eagle). On 20th June E weighed almost 6 kilos (5950g), the heaviest eagle chick collected in 2008.Based on tail length E was estimated to be 8½ weeks old. On 21st June E was flown from Trondheim to Kerry along with 19 other eaglets and was housed in a large cage in Killarney National Park with Hitra female D.
On 30th July we attached PVC wing-tags (white on right and red on left) and a battery-powered GPS satellite transmitter to allow us to identify and track E in the wild. The 105g LC4 PTT from Microwave Telemetry takes single GPS fixes each day with the data transmitted to Argos on day 10. To allow us to track E in real time we also attached a small, lightweight Vhf tailmount transmitter (Biotrack). This will be lost when she moults the tail feather used for attachment in early-mid 2009. On 7th August E was released along with seven other eaglets.
Over the next several weeks E has largely been located on the shore of the Lower Lake, Killarney, where food dumps have been maintained twice a week for the first 2-3 months post-release.
Male L hatched in late April 2008 at a nest at Storsteinvart on the island of Frøya 80-90klm NW of the city of Trondheim in west central Norway. On 16th June L was also collected on Frøya by ornithologists Bertil Nyheim, S. Garstad, and F. Pedersen from Prosject Havørn (Project Sea Eagle).
On 20th June L weighed just over four kilos (4050g) and was estimated to be seven weeks old. On 21st June L was flown from Trondheim to Kerry along with 19 other eaglets and was housed in a large cage in Killarney National Park with Vikna male K. On 30th July we attached PVC wing-tags (white on right and red on left) and a solar-powered GPS satellite transmitter. The 70g solar PTT-100 from Microwave Telemetry takes GPS fixes every hour during daylight hours with the data transmitted to Argos on day 3. On 14th August L was released along with nine other eaglets.
Over the next several weeks L has largely also been mostly located on the shore of the Lower Lake, Killarney. Almost no GPS satellite data were received over the first month post-release probably due to very poor weather conditions throughout August and the first half of September with almost total cloud cover (aka "the Irish summer" !). Happily the unit began transmitting GPS data again in mid-September with the return of some sunshine!
Female "Black K" was collected from the Carmarthenshire area of Mid-Wales. She was collected on the 19th June 2008 by Tony Cross of the Welsh Kite Trust. On the day of collection she weighed in at 893g. A nestling kite of that weight could be male or female, but Tony judged it to be a female given the thickness of its tarsus (leg). She was ringed and brought back to Gigrin Farm, Rhayader, where she lived in the aviaries for the next three days before being brought back to Ireland on the 22nd June.
On the 14th July "Black K" was fitted with its wing tags, tail mounted radio and solar powered satellite backpack. "Black K" was tagged by Dr. Marc Ruddock of the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group. All 2008 birds got the same tags, with individual letters, so Marc fitted a blue tag on the left wing, indicating a Wicklow bird and a black tag on the right wing indicating a 2008 bird. "Black K" has a slightly heavier pack weighing 12g, compared to "Black T's" 9g pack. Both packs are well within the recommended weights for red kites. Prior to release the "Black K" weighed 1034g, confirming Tony's initial sexing of the bird.
"Black K" was released on 24th July and has remained in the release area since.
Female "Black T" was collected from the Carmarthenshire area of Mid-Wales. She was collected on the 19th June 2008 by Tony Cross of the Welsh Kite Trust. On the day of collection she weighed in at 1,030g, a definite female at that weight. She was then ringed and brought back to Gigrin Farm, Rhayader, where she lived in the aviaries for the next three days before being brought back to Ireland on the 22nd June.
Interestingly, "Black T's" parents produced a white red kite last year. White red kites are particular to Wales and are a result of the limited gene pool from which the Welsh kites have come from. About one in every two hundred chicks in Wales is white. The correct term is leucistic. Perhaps "Black T" will produce white kites in Ireland.
On the 14th July "Black T" was fitted with its wing tags, tail mounted radio and solar powered satellite backpack. Lorcan O'Toole, project manager of the Golden Eagle reintroduction, fitted the wing tags and radio, and assisted Brian Etheridge in putting on the satellite pack. Brian has years of experience working on kites and other birds of prey in Scotland and is the current Scottish Raptor Monitoring Officer. "Black T" was well chosen for this job and lay quietly throughout the process.
"Black T" was released on 24th July and has remained in the general release area since.