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Rare white-tailed eagle chicks hatched in four Irish counties

It is hoped the eagle families will go on to form a viable population in Ireland.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA White-tailed Eagle chick in nest, Mountshannon, Co. Clare. Source: Allan Mee, Golden Eagle Trust

WHITE-TAILED eagles have successfully hatched chicks across four counties in Ireland in the last few weeks, signalling good news for the protected species.

Eight pairs of eagles have nested and laid eggs with five nests, hatching chicks in counties Clare, Cork, Galway and Kerry. Three other pairs nesting in Kerry failed to hatch successfully.

The first nest to hatch chicks was at Glengarriff in Cork in mid-April with its first flight expected in early July.

The Golden Eagle Trust said hopes are high now that the five successful pairs will raise the chicks and they will go on to form the basis of a viable population in Ireland.

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Eagles_056 (1) White-tailed Eagle adult male near nest, Mountshannon, Co. Clare. Source: Arthur Ellis Photography

Local conservation ranger in West Cork, Clare Heardman, said it was an incredible experience watching the eagles there work towards what will be their first breeding success, having lost a chick at two weeks old in 2014 due to bad weather.

After sitting tight on the eggs for over a month, the parents again faced the challenge of keep the chick warm, dry and fed as the weather turned particularly bad at the beginning of May. However, they demonstrated their greater level of experience as parents and the chick survived the storm. The nestling is looking big and strong now at over six weeks of age, and it is very exciting to think that 2015 could be the first year in over a century that a Cork-born white tailed eagle is seen flying again.

These are the latest chicks in the reintroduction programme which began in Ireland in 2007, with the release of 100 young Norwegian eagles in Killarney National Park.

There was outrage in April when a female white-tailed eagle was found poisoned in her nest in Connemara, Co Galway. The bird was within a few days of laying eggs.

Read: A White-tailed Eagle has been found poisoned in its nest in Connemara>

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