THE cause of death of two-year-old Eddie, the white-tailed sea eagle – who was the only chick to fledge in Co Cork in over 100 years – remains unknown and may never be verified because just bone and feathers remain of him.
There was much sadness among bird watchers to hear the news that Eddie was found dead on the Dingle Peninsula in June and it appears that he had been dead for about two or three months.
‘It’s very sad when you lose a bird like that as I’ve been following his progress and got to know his character,’ said Clare Heardman, conservation ranger at Glengarriff Woods Natural Reserve.
‘He had a wing tag so the only way we could hear about him was if people had spotted him. Eddie was last seen at the end of February and we think he died in March or April.
‘The fact that he survived two winters means that he was able to fend for himself. We would have hoped that he would be the next generation of white-tailed eagles.
Dr Allan Mee, manager of the White-tailed Eagle Project said that while it’s possible Eddie died of natural causes, he pointed out that most such ‘natural’ eagle mortality occurs in the first year of life but is much lower in subsequent years as individuals gain the experience and skills to survive in the wild.
‘However, human related mortality (eg poisoning) can equally impact all age classes,’ said Dr Mee.
There was great excitement two years ago when Eddie became the first wild eagle to fledge in Co Cork in over 100 years.
After leaving his nest site on Garinish Island in late 2016 he was sighted at several locations on the north side of the Beara Peninsula.
By spring of last year he was on the Iveragh Peninsula and then last winter there were sightings of him on several of Kerry’s sandy beaches.
‘The last definite sighting of him was on Fermoyle Beach not far from where he was found dead several months later.
Eddie’s remains were found by a Czech forestry worker called Michael who was planting trees for Coillte in a plantation west of Cloghane village. ‘The tag caught his eye and he saw Allan’s number on the back of it and rang and told him that he had found Eddie,’ added Clare.
The team want to thank everyone who was lucky enough to see Eddie in his first glory as he travelled around Kerry and who took the trouble to send in photographs and details of their sightings to them.
‘Eddie wasn’t satellite tagged so these sightings were invaluable in tracking his movements.’
As for Eddie’s parents, they are still on Garinish Island but didn’t raise a chick this year.