If the large crowd attending this talk in Wilton on the 26th of February 2020 is anything to go by, we have a huge fascination for birds of prey in the county.
It was a gift to have Tony Nagle to share not only his expertise but also his obvious passion for birds of prey. Tony told us about his interest in wildlife which he has had since his childhood in the 1970s. He described how as a kid he had dreamt of hearing the call of the Buzzard – once a rarity it is a sound that has become wonderfully commonplace in recent years.
Tony is a former director of the Golden Eagle Trust and was involved in bringing Golden Eagle and Red Kite chicks back to Ireland for the re-introduction programmes. He explained the reasons for the successes and failures of many reintroduction programmes and gave us a fascinating insight into some of the strange and surprising reasons for why birds of prey thrive or struggle.
From Charlie Haughey’s dream of bringing sea eagles to his island home of Inishvickillaune bringing about a ban on strychnine and an upsurge in bird of prey populations to a bizarre story of a travelling, pregnant German greater white toothed shrew who populated most of the island of Ireland and provided a delicious food source for certain species of raptors.
Tony has extensive experience in surveying birds of prey and has played a leading role in the National Hen Harrier Survey, National Peregrine Falcon Survey 2002, and has organized Buzzard and Barn Owl surveys in County Cork and continues to monitor both of these species and is currently involved in a study of Long-eared Owl prey. He is a founding member (and Project Ecologist) of the BRIDE Project (an agri-environment project designed to improve biodiversity on intensive farmland).
It was wonderful to have the opportunity to learn from Tony’s wealth of knowledge and to be inspired by his passion for these wonderful creatures.