White-tailed eagle in Svolvaer, Norway Photo: Yathin S Krishnappa
White-tailed eagle in Svolvaer, Norway Photo: Yathin S Krishnappa

First sea eagle fledged in Cork for 100 years found dead on Dingle Peninsula

August 1st, 2018

A Cork-fledged wild sea eagle known as Eddie has been found dead on the Dingle Peninsula, in Co Kerry.

Eddie was born in Glengarriff in 2016 and was the first wild white-tailed sea eagle to mature in Co Cork in over a century.

The bird’s remains were located in June by a forestry worker near Cloghane in the West Kerry Gaeltacht area.

The two-year-old raptor had left its nesting site on Garnish Island in late 2016 and was since sighted in various locations including the Beara Peninsula between Counties Cork and Kerry.

Clare Heardman, a conservation ranger with the National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS), said the Eddie was last sighted alive in late February, and probably died in early March.

Eddie was not trailed by satellite tagging, and his movements were largely recorded by the public. While the cause of death is unknown in this case, Ms Heardman said that a number of natural and man-made factors customarily contribute to the death of eagles.

“The most common [cause of death] so far in Ireland has been poisoning,” she said. “They are usually inadvertently poisoned if someone lays out poison neat baits to control foxes.”

“It is totally illegal to do so, but a small handful of people insist on doing it, and it only takes one to kill an eagle,” Ms Heardman continued.

“People need to be really careful if they are using any poison because they might be targeting rats, but birds of prey can easily pick up a rat that is a bit sick and get secondary poisoning.”

Dr Allan Mee of the Golden Eagle Trust oversees the reintroduction of white-tailed eagle species to Ireland. The eagles in programmes managed by Golden Eagle Trust have been sighted in places as far as Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Dr Mee said that starvation as a result of difficulties in tracing food is also a major cause of death among young eagles. He added, however, that eagles older than one years of age have a significantly lower chance of dying from starvation.

Getting hit by wind turbines and developing bird flu are other possible causes of death among eagles, according to Ms Heardman. She said that raising awareness about eagles is the surest way to prevent human-related mortality rates among eagles.

“Eagles mostly eat fish and they are not a threat to livestock, so it is important to get [information] out there because farmers might target them thinking that they are a threat to lambs,” she said.

About the Author

Shamim Malekmian

Shamim Malekmian is a Cork-based freelance journalist and contributor to the Irish Examiner, Cork’s Evening Echo and The Green News.

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