The flight is expected any day now and a newly established group has brought together those who have been monitoring the movements and activities of the Bushy Island residents since they first settled in.
The Golden Eagle Trust is to depart Mountshannon in the coming weeks and the Mountshannon Eagle Group aims to fill the void locally to monitor the birds of prey and to inform visitors to the area.
The eagles attract anywhere between 90 to 120 people per day, according to the Golden Eagle Trust, which has been keeping a log of the number of times visitors enquire about the birds or use the telescope to view them.
The Mountshannon Eagle Group is also very involved in engaging with the public as to what they have learned about the birds, their personalities and how they have developed since they arrived at Bushy Island.
The two chicks’ nest is easily viewed from the shore offering a unique opportunity for visitors to see them by telescope. However, visitors needn’t rely on a scope to see the parents swoop for fish as the female, with a wingspan of eight feet and the male, with a wingspan of seven feet, cannot be mistaken in flight.
Speaking about the week ahead, Sadhbh O’Neill of the Mountshannon Eagle Group said, “Within the next week, the chicks will fledge. It is a very exciting time and the first time in Ireland where we will be able to witness the fledging of eaglets. It is something not to be missed. Mountshannon Bay is geographically in a unique position and is shaped like an amphitheatre, with Bushy Island in the centre. The island is in full view of the Mountshannon harbour and we have been given a wonderful opportunity to observe, learn and experience these magnificent birds in their natural wild environment at a safe distance so as not to interfere with them,” she said.
Following the installation and removal of a camera in the nest, the group said they have been advised that it is not intended to tag the eaglets at this stage for fear of further disruption. They have said while they understand, this position it is regrettable.
“We understand the reservations and concerns about causing further disruption to the eaglets by not tagging them. We do have concerns for the eaglets’ future safety and whereabouts if they are not tagged and still hold hopes that they will be tagged in the future,” Sadhbh said.
The group argue that unless tagging takes place, the sex of the chicks may not be known. There is the potential for the eaglets to leave Lough Derg shortly after they fledge and their story will come to an end at that point. In anticipation of the fledging, the movements of all four of the birds have been documented closely.
“The male eagle has been showing for some time strong mentoring skill, he flies by the nest with food enticing the eaglets. This will continue until they fledge and they will start to chase the parents for food. In this way they learn how to fly and fish. By the onset of winter, the eagle parents will drive the chicks out,” Sadhbh noted.
The Golden Eagle Trust has had a trained observer on hand at the harbour to answer questions the public might have but funding is no longer available for this service and it will be withdrawn from the end of July.
“Our aim is driven by a passionate belief that we all have a responsibility to protect these birds and our environment. It is still early days for us as a group as we find our feet. The recent disappointment of the disturbances of the nest brings many positive aspects with it. It is from our mistakes we learn our greatest lessons. This is a long-term project, as we hope Mountshannon bay will continue to be the home territory of the parent eagles for many years to come,” Sadhbh added.
The Mountshannon Eagles Group is working on a website to provide information about the eagles and other wildlife on the lake and the group is inviting the public to make submissions.