More than 2,500 visitors have so far flocked to see the white tailed sea eagles from the newly installed viewing and information point in Mountshannon since it was officially opened on July 4.
Located at Mountshannon Pier and funded by Clare County Council, the new tourism development features telescopes and information displays about Ireland’s largest and most spectacular breeding birds, including the first of the species to be born in the country in 110 years.
The facility is being operated by the Mountshannon Eagle Group, Mountshannon Community Council and the Golden Eagle Trust and will remain open until the end of September.
Speaking about this new facility, Congella McGuire, Clare heritage officer, said the introduction of the viewing point “has further increased public interest in the local White-Tailed Sea Eagle population, without disturbing them in their natural habitat”.
She said since the birds first arrived in Mountshannon three years ago, the council has worked closely with the Golden Eagle Trust and the local community to ensure they are afforded every opportunity to thrive.
“The delivery of this viewing and information point further safeguards these impressive birds and their nesting activities, as well as promotes their ecology and conservation. It’s also an excellent addition to the local tourism infrastructure,” she added.
Dr Allan Mee, White-Tailed Sea Eagle project manager, expressed his delight at the popularity of the information and viewing point.
“It is very encouraging to see that the general public has shown significant interest in this structure, which is purpose-built and designed specifically for the purposes as a bird-viewing and information point.
“The good will and support shown by the local community and Clare County Council have been central to the success of this project to date and we look forward to promoting Mountshannon as an example elsewhere of how best to increase public access to and awareness of such birds, without disturbing them, especially during nesting periods,” Dr Mee said.
Commenting on the amount of footfall in the area since the viewing point was officially opened, Denis Minogue, of the Mountshannon Eagles Group, said the group had welcomed on average 130 people every day during the opening week. This rose to around 150 to 200 people each day, which he said “underlines the significant public interest in the birds”.
“Being able to view a breeding pair of White-Tailed Sea Eagles in their natural habitat is not only a unique experience but something the people of Mountshannon and those who live around Lough Derg are very proud of. We look forward to working with the local community and other groups to ensure that the birds are protected into the future,” he said.
The Mountshannon breeding pair, named Saoirse and Caimin, are now five and six years old, respectively, and were originally collected as chicks on the island of Frøya, off the west coast of Norway, by the Golden Eagle Trust. The birds were released in Killarney National Park, before relocating to Lough Derg in 2011.
Visit www.mountshannoneagles.ie or the local pier to learn more about the Mountshannon White-Tailed Sea Eagles.