Eddie, the White-tailed Eagle chick who made headlines in 2016 when he became the first wild-fledged eagle to take to the skies of County Cork in more than 100 years, was found dead on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry in June.
According to reports from The Golden Eagle Trust/National Parks and Wildlife Service Eddies remains were discovered by a forestry worker planting trees for Coillte at a plantation west of Cloghane village. Although he wasn’t satellite tagged, reported sightings of Eddie since he left his nest in Glengarriff in late summer of 2016 show that he spent the winter on the north side of the Beara Peninsula, and by spring of 2017 had moved west to the Iveragh Peninsula in Co. Kerry. Over winter 2017 sightings came in from coastal locations along the Kerry coast. The last confirmed sighting of this magnificent bird was from Fermoyle beach, not far from where his remains were discovered.
Eddie had been dead for some time when discovered, so it was impossible for the authorities to determine the cause of death. However, commenting on the grizzly discovery Dr Alan Mee, coordinator of the White-tailed Eagle reintroduction project for the Golden Eagle Trust, pointed out that once they’re through their first year the probability of death by natural causes falls sharply for White-tailed Eagles.
“While it’s possible he died of natural causes (e.g. starvation), most such ‘natural’ eagle mortality occurs in the first year of life (typically 25%) but is much lower in subsequent years as individuals gain the experience and skills to survive in the wild. However, human-related mortality (e.g. poisoning) can equally impact all age classes,” he said.
Posting on the Glengarriff Woods Nature Reserve page on Facebook, Clare Heardman, Conservation Ranger with the National Parks and Wildlife Service thanked the forestry worker for reporting the sad news, and all of the members of the public who had submitted sightings of Eddie to the project throughout his short life.
“Although it was very sad to learn of Eddie’s death we are very grateful to [the forestry worker] for reporting his finding,” she said. “Thanks also to all the people who were lucky enough to see Eddie in his full glory as he travelled around Kerry and who took the trouble to send in photographs and details of their sightings to Dr Allan Mee or NPWS. Eddie wasn’t satellite tagged so these sightings were invaluable in tracking his movements.”
We were lucky enough to see Eddie when he was very young with a small group of wildlife enthusiasts on our Discover Wildlife Weekend in May 2016. It’s an experience none of us will forget, and ranks as one of my most memorable wildlife encounters of all-time, anywhere in the world.
Eddie’s parents are still on territory at the nest site in Glengarriff, and despite natural mishaps leading to failed breeding attempts over recent years, both adults are young, healthy and growing in experience every year. So here’s hoping Eddie’s younger brothers and sisters will be taking to the skies of West Cork before too long, and that other White-tailed Eagle pairs around the country have a successful season to bolster the fragile population of this incredible bird in Ireland.