PICS: First flight for rare eagle born in West Cork

“Yesterday, the eaglet made his first flight to the mainland and so we decided it was time to announce his presence.”
PICS: First flight for rare eagle born in West Cork

Cuileann in the nest aged nearly nine weeks old. Credit: Alan McCarthy (tree climber)/NPWS

Wildlife lovers are celebrating the birth of a rare eagle in West Cork.

News of the addition was made public on the Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve Facebook page. Locals had kept the secret before the announcement by conservation ranger, Clare Heardman.

“We’ve been keeping it quiet to make sure the new pair of eagles in Glengarriff could nest in peace, but we’re thrilled to announce they have successfully fledged a chick this year,” Ms Heardman said in the post.

Cuileann with his colour ring. He is also fitted with a satellite tag so rangers can follow his movements. Picture: Clare Heardman NPWS
Cuileann with his colour ring. He is also fitted with a satellite tag so rangers can follow his movements. Picture: Clare Heardman NPWS

“The adult male, Brendan, is a first-time dad and also becomes the first Irish-bred White-tailed Sea Eagle male to successfully breed in over 100 years. 

"An Irish-bred female has been nesting on the shores of Lough Derg since 2020, but Brendan is the first male to rear a chick.”

Brendan is taking well to fatherhood. “He is five years old, having fledged from a nest on the Iveragh Peninsula in 2017,” Ms Heardman said. 

“He has been an attentive parent, regularly bringing fish from the harbour to feed his chick, who we have named Cuileann, after the island he fledged from. 

"Mum is Black P, who has been nesting in the area for several years now.”

Locals were excited to observe him taking his first flight to the mainland.

“He was fitted with a satellite tag by Dr Allan Mee, prior to fledging, and was also colour-ringed. He is only the second chick to be colour-ringed in Ireland, marking a move away from the wing tags used to date.

“Yesterday, the eaglet made his first flight to the mainland and so we decided it was time to announce his presence.”

The community is enjoying Cuileann as much it can before he flies the nest.

“As some of you will remember, in 2020 the female (Black P) raised a chick on her own, after her mate disappeared when their chick was only two weeks old,” Ms Heardman said. “The chick was named Sunniva and she left Glengarriff in May 2021.

“For some months now, she has been in Mayo. In the coming months, the new 2022 eaglet will also leave Glengarriff and make his own way in the world. He will, hopefully, meet up with some of the 16 chicks who came from Norway this year as part of the reintroduction programme, the first four of which were released last Friday.”

Ms Heardman extended her gratitude to those who have been looking out for the eagles.

“Many thanks to all the ferrymen and boat/kayak tour operators for minding the eagles, to OPW staff for their ongoing support, and to tagging team Allan Mee (ringer), Alan McCarthy (tree climber), and NPWS staff (Declan O’Donnell, Micheal McSweeney, Paddy Crowley and Jay Cornish).

“Finally, special thanks to the Norwegians for donating eagle chicks for the White-tailed Sea Eagle reintroduction programme,” Ms Heardman said.

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