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Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Rare majestic bird spotted in Kildorrery, Cork

Courtesy of Gerard Casey. 
Seeing a cool looking bird is unusual, but not all that noteworthy for many and most of us will look up and think 'wow, that bird looks amazing' and then go about our day. 

Luckily, Fr Gerard Casey is not one such individual and when an unusual bird was spotted, which could have been a common buzzard or a rare eagle, he was part of a group who acted immediately, much to the delight of birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. 

The unusual bird was spotted in Meadestown, Kildorrery on August 14, 2016 and Dr Allen Mee the Project Manager for Eagles Trust Ireland provided the identification. 

The very pretty and striking look bird was in fact a white-tailed sea eagle - a 15-week-old chick no less and was one of only six born in the country this year. 

On his social media account, Fr Casey reported that the bird was 'disorganised and disorientated'. 

Locals were quick off the mark and immediately set up a group to protect the bird and keep it local, while attempts were made to rescue it. 

This was not, however, merely a group of local people pitching in to help a distressed bird, Dr Torceir Nygard, the world expert on the white-tailed eagle travelled from Norway to assist in the operation.  

Dr Nygard and Dr Mee kept a daily watch on the bird while attempting to re-capture him and a local feeding routine was established. Talk about a stellar local operation with volunteers pulling out all of the stops to treat the bird as professionally as possible. 

The efforts to bring in the best from the field didn't stop there - they sought advice from Canada.

"A truly international event was taking place secretly in Kildorrery, to protect the presence of the unique visitor," Fr Casey said.

Courtesy of Gerard Casey. 

Fr Casey was afforded the privilege of being asked to photograph the bird and he did this by gently driving a farmyard jeep and using a Nikon Coolpix P520 bridge camera (for the tech heads, it had a 42X wide optical 4.3-180mm fixed lens) and the stunning photos can be seen throughout this blog post.

The majestic bird was captured by Dr Mee and Dr Nygard, was tagged, fitted with a tracker and returned on the same day to Portumna.

Since then, the tracking device has tracked its flight South past Nenagh to Silvermines, back up to Lough Derg near Mountshannon, back to Portumna and then along the Shannon River, North of Banagher in Co Offaly.

Fr Casey thanked all who took part in what he described as a "wonderful saga", including Dr Allen Mee, John Reidy, Dick Lillis, Sean Reidy, David Lee and Dr Torcier Nygard.

On an aside, but related tangent, years ago a female hen harrier made its way into my parent's garden in Rockchapel, North Cork. 

Unlike others who may have just glanced at it and moved on, Da was quite taken with it and immediately fetched his binoculars and got out the bird book (yes, we had a bird book on the shelf to call upon in these very instances). 

The hen harrier hung about in our garden for about a day and a half and was not perturbed by the presence of my parents. She even perched on the top of the lawnmower while my Mam was collecting the grass, after cutting it. 

Da took a number of photographs of the bird and initially, they thought it was a kestrel, but the trusty bird book proved it to be a female hen harrier and with its full wing span, it looked pretty immense and spectacular. 

Speaking to my Mam about the bird's visit, she said that at first they simply thought they were blessed to have this bird in the garden. 

When the cat Sooty, who had just had kittens, was on high alert and perched herself at the vantage point on top of the shed roof to watch the bird, Ma and Da realised that the bird, which was a predator, was probably biding its time until it could get to the four-week-old kittens who were all tucked away in a box by the back door. 

Da was so taken with the bird that he created a stunning picture of the bird using the good old fashioned paint programme on the PC, so it was painstakingly created, literally pixel by pixel. I must check if we still have it at home. 

Courtesy of Gerard Casey. 

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