first_imgLorcan O’Toole of the Golden Eagle Project with one of the magnificent birds at a secret location in Glenveagh.Donegal’s Golden Eagle project failed to produce any new chicks this year with the severe weather having a major impact on the project.However, promoters of the unique wildlife plan say upland farming methods must also be examined if the once majestic bird is to take flight again in large numbers across Ireland.Thankfully human interference, either by disturbance or poisoning, has not been noted as a limiting factor with these pairs of Golden Eagles. The weather in Donegal was even worse than the national pattern, which was clearly unseasonably wet and cold. But the weather alone may not have been the determining factor.The project says that if there was a better food supply within the territories of the four pairs of eagles, it is likely some chicks would have fledged in 2015.This summer a total of four pairs built nests, three of which laid eggs and two of these pairs hatched young. But all three breeding pairs failed and no new Golden Eagles were added to the population in 2015.The Glenveagh pair laid eggs in the same nest they have used in recent years. But unfortunately the chick that hatched died after a week, during a spell of poor weather. The other established pair also had young but their breeding attempt failed when the chick was only 3 weeks old. And though the weather was wet at the time, it was quite disappointing to lose a chick at this age.A shortage of food availability locally may have been exacerbated by the poor weather and resulted in a weak and vulnerable chick.The first time breeders, including a Donegal bred eagle, that first bred and failed in 2014, built a very good nest in 2015. It was arguably one of the best nests built in Donegal since the project started. A very solid and big nest was built on an ideal ledge – completely sheltered from the prevailing winds in the area.Unfortunately, shortly after the eggs were laid there were two days of severe hail storms from a northerly direction – which literally sandblasted the sitting female. The nest duly failed, just before the very warm and bright weather in mid April this year.The fourth pair built a nest but failed to lay eggs.It is very difficult to gauge the future trajectory of this small breeding population. Our oldest pair, now over 14 years old, may only have 3-5 years of chick rearing potential left before their breeding attempts begin to wane. WHAT IS NEEDEDWe really need other pairs to come on stream quickly and start producing young consistently. We have always felt that 3-5 young a year would be required just to guarantee a small population, regardless of the need for gradual expansion outside of Donegal.To date our annual productivity has ranged from 0-3 birds annually. It is not enough.So what can be done to secure the viability of Donegal’s eagles? Whilst a deteriorating weather pattern may be an increasingly limiting factor, our focus is most prominently on the habitat condition of the Donegal uplands.The Golden Eagle Trust feel that the conditions of the Donegal Mountains can be improved, if there are appropriate management tools in place. It is human actions that have shaped the limited capacity of our hills and we also have the same ability to improve the Hills of Donegal. And therefore, we have come to the opinion that it is primarily the Department of Agriculture, who hold the key to improving the lot of the Upland eagles. Farm policies regarding upland vegetation is the key ingredient. Ultimately it is the farmers who do most active upland management.Unfortunately there is no exemplary demonstration site in Donegal to either explore how best to manage ‘farmed Uplands’ or actively manage particular upland habitats. There is a lot of damaged habit and some stable habitats, but there is very little habitat reflecting the true potential of Irish Upland wildlife.And whilst it is true to say that the Eagles are not producing enough young in Donegal – that is basically another way of saying that the underlying condition of the Hills in Donegal is not in favourable conservation status. That would be a very serious admission or conclusion, which could have serious implications in terms of European commitments regarding Wildlife Directives, Windfarm planning applications, Cross Compliance measures of farm payments and forestry applications.The situation is critical. The Golden Eagle Trust and many, many others are trying to influence and improve upland land management in Ireland in order to facilitate a small number of breeding Golden Eagles. Climate change may have an increasing role to play in annual productivity. We believe this population has the potential to stabilise and slowly increase, given the right management policies.For those who believe that the population is doomed to fail, we say that it is vital that you state simultaneously that sustainable IrishUpland land management has also failed. Because we are convinced that multi annual Golden Eagle productivity will reflect the conditions of their mountain homes. We are focussed on this potential – and will do our best to convince others of the value of sustainable Uplands, in the broadest sense.EAGLE PROJECTS FAILS TO BREED CHICKS DUE TO POOR WEATHER AND FARMING METHODS was last modified: November 18th, 2015 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img