Tuesday, 6 August 2013

White-tailed Eagles at Mountshannon

It was great to see that the pair of chicks in the White-tailed Eagle nest near Mountshannon, Co. Clare successfully fledged in mid July.  This is first successful fledging of the species in Ireland in over 115 years.  The parent birds are part of the stock imported from Norway in recent years as part of a re-introduction programme managed by the Golden Eagle Trust. The male is a five year old and the female is a year younger.  The pair have been in occupation of the area for about two years and made an unsuccessful attempt at breeding on the site last year.

Having spent many hours on nest monitoring over the past five months it was very pleasing to see two fully grown and healthy looking young birds readying themselves for their first flight. The young birds are still hanging around the island where the nest was located, in spite of what appeared to be repeated attempts by both parents recently to lure them further a field.  The photos below were taken by Nigel Beers Smith recently.  Nigel has been stationed at Mountshannon for the past six months photographing and filming the birds. See his Mountshannon-White-Tailed-Sea-Eagles Facebook Page for more excellent photos.
Male White-tailed Eagle 'Red Y' at Mountshannon  © Nigel Beers Smith

Male 'Red Y' attempting to lure one of the young birds into the open  © Nigel Beers Smith

The many visits to Mountshannon afforded the opportunity to catch up with the other breeding birds on the lake locally. Small numbers of Common Terns (up to three pairs) are regularly seen around the harbour.  Black-headed Gulls are very much in evidence along with a few Common Gulls.  A few pairs of Great-crested Grebes and a single pair of Red-breasted Mergansers breed close to the harbour.  Family parties of Mallard, Mute Swan and Coot were also very much in evidence. Single Kingfishers and Common Sandpipers were seen on occasions.  There was a notable Whimbrel passage between mid April and mid May.   Disappointingly no Osprey was seen during the very extensive nest monitoring in either 2013 or 2012, even though there are one or two old records of the species in the area previously. Buzzard was the only raptor of note, with a couple of records in 2012.

Common Tern ©Tom Tarpey

Black-headed Gull ©Tom Tarpey

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