The fact that the bird, named after nine-year-old Fiadhna Tangney, from the Black Valley, in Co Kerry, could fly so freely and safely was also held out as an example that eagles can survive here – if given the chance.
Satellite tracking found she has been to 28 counties in nine months – the exceptions being Wexford, Mayo, Sligo and Roscommon – without being harmed.
Of the 55 sea eagles which have so far being released in Killarney National Park as a part of a reintroduction project, 14 have died, at least seven after consuming poisons that had been put out on farms for foxes and other pests. Project manager Dr Allan Mee, of the Golden Eagle Trust, said they were “very heartened and delighted” by Fiadhna’s journey.
“During that time she must have visited literally hundreds of farms. Indeed, one farmer up in Antrim has been looking out for her ever since she showed up on his farm in September and stayed for four months. Amazingly, four months later after travelling back to Kerry, she showed up at his farm in Antrim again. It confirms for me that poisoning is isolated and most farmers do not use poisons.”
He had met farmers all over Ireland who were not bothered by the presence of the eagles and were even happy to see such beautiful birds, he said.
Fiadhna spent the first days after release on historic Innisfallen island, in Killarney Lakes, before heading east and then north to the coast of Antrim, near the Giant’s Causeway.
She spent the early winter in the north Antrim hills before travelling to Donegal, in February, even roosting next to golden eagles in Glenveagh National Park. She moved back to Northern Ireland before visiting the Cooley Peninsula, Co Louth, and then west to Westmeath.
In early March, she travelled south to Castleisland, within sight of her home in Killarney, before heading back north to Connemara. On March 20, she flew east, ending up in Co Wicklow, where she was spotted by local people.
On April 9, she headed north over Dublin city before reaching the Sperrin Mountains, in Northern Ireland. In late April, she moved back to the Antrim hills before heading to Donegal in mid-May.