By Siobhán Cronin
AN amateur wildlife photographer has succeeded in capturing some excellent shots of a white-tailed sea eagle and his mate relaxing in Glengarriff harbour.
For the last 10 years, Carrigtwohill-based Alan Cronin’s passion has been photographing the Beara peninsula, mainly the landscape.
But recently he decided to try and capture some of the seal colony in the harbour in Glengarriff, and he booked a boat trip to see them.
He was also hopeful of seeing the eagles which have made the area their home, since being brought to Ireland from Norway, as part of a reintroduction programme.
‘I booked an evening boat trip, hoping to catch some pictures of the seals with the mountains in the background,’ Alan told The Southern Star. ‘But we were only out roughly five minutes when the guide spotted one of the eagles on a lovely perch of a large Scots pine branch on the island. It was hard to contain my excitement and I had to steady myself to try and capture a few nice shots. He told me he had never seen them on such a perfect perch,’ he added. ‘I managed to get a few shots and we headed around the corner where the larger female was, although she was higher up in a shaded area.’
Alan said that while the short trip was over all too soon, he felt blessed to spend a little time in their company and to see them so calm and relaxed.
Clare Heardman, the conservation officer for Beara, explained that the bird with the blue ‘W’ tag is a male who hatched in the wild in Norway in 2009 and was brought to Ireland as part of the white-tailed sea eagle reintroduction programme. He was released in Killarney National Park in autumn 2009 but defected to Co Cork instead, and arrived in Glengarriff in 2013 where he’s been ever since. His female mate is also of Norway origin, and was born in 2011.
Clare also explained the genesis of the wing tags. ‘Tags like these are used during reintroduction programmes so the birds can be identified. It allows the progress of the programme to be assessed and survival rate of the birds to be monitored. Some of the eagles are satellite-tagged so their movements can be tracked by researchers online, but the satellite tags are expensive so not all the eagles are fitted with one. However, a chick that hatched elsewhere on the Beara peninsula last year is fitted with a satellite tag which showed he recently paid a visit back to Beara.’
Although Alan isn’t a professional photographer, he has a dream to one day publish a book of his photographs taken around Beara. ‘It’s mainly landscape photos I take and I have had a few published in various places like Outdoor Photography magazine and a guidebook on the Wild Atlantic Way. I have sold some at markets and to restaurants, and a couple of years ago I made a video on Facebook of a decade along the Beara Way. It’s up to about 15,000 views and many shares now,’ he said.
‘I was delighted to get a few nice Eagle shots as I don’t have many wildlife images.’