A delegation representing the White Tailed Sea Eagles Viewing & Information Point in Mountshannon has visited Mull to learn how White-tailed Sea Eagle public viewing has been organised for the economic benefit of the Scottish island.
The Mountshannon community represented by James Leonard of the Mountshannon Community Council and Vera O’Rourke of the Mountshannon Eagle Group along with Dr. Allan Mee of the Golden Eagle Trust and Congella McGuire of Clare County Council met with their equivalents in Mull who outlined how White-tailed Sea Eagle watching is worth up to £5million in tourism spend annually, representing 28% of the overall local income in Mull.
In addition, White-tailed Sea Eagle watching supports more than 60 jobs in catering, accommodation and recreational services.
Led by the community, funded by Clare County Council and supported by the Golden Eagle Trust, the White Tailed Sea Eagles Viewing & Information Point at Mountshannon Pier features telescopes and information and displays about Ireland’s largest and most spectacular breeding birds, including the first of the species to be born in the country in 110 years.
Commenting on the visit, Vera O’Rourke of Mountshannon Community Council said, “We met with David Sexton from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds of the Island of Mull Eagle Watch Trust before visiting two Eagle public viewing points (Tiroran and Lough Frisa Community Forest) where visitors are given information and facilitated to watch Eagles on their daily routine, sitting on eggs and feeding chicks. We also had the pleasure of seeing White-tailed Sea Eagle up close and personal from a boat trip off the island of Ulva, where several birds came very close to the boat.
“Moray Finch of the North West Mull & Iona Community Trust outlined how the Eagle Watch initiative operates and the support it offers to the local communities in Mull. Funding from eagle watching is given back to the local community and supports a wide range of community activities on the island, such as traditional music, farming and land management, bee keeping, schools, education and awareness raising, life guards, renewable energy and low carbon activities annually,” added Ms. O’Rourke.
Commenting on the visit to Scotland, Dr. Allan Mee of the Golden Eagle Trust said, “Mull is a great example of how a responsible attitude to nature can benefit the local economy and the environment and go hand in hand in supporting both sustainable tourism and conservation.”
The first pair of White Tailed Sea Eagle appeared in Mountshannon in 2011 and made history in 2013 when the first wild Irish Sea Eagle chicks fledged in Ireland in over 100 years. Sea Eagles have successfully reared chicks over the last three years in Mountshannon. No eggs have been successfully hatched in 2016, however.
“Being able to view a breeding pair of White Tailed Sea Eagles in their natural habitat is not only a unique experience but something the people of Mountshannon and those who live around Lough Derg are very proud of,” explained Congella McGuire, Clare Heritage Officer.
She continued, “Clare County Council will continue to work alongside the local community, the Golden Eagle Trust and other groups to ensure that the birds are protected into the future.”