Aonghus Anniversary, November 2020

Aonghus, the juvenile male White-tailed Eagle born in the wild in Ireland, arrived in the Isle of Man on 29th November 2019 after crossing the Irish Sea from winter quarters in Scotland.

Unfortunately, Aonghus’s exact location on the Island could not be made public in order to avoid possible disturbance around his newly-adopted roost site.

After nearly two months on the Island – hiding high on cloudy hill tops and feeding on sheep and rabbit carcasses – Manx BirdLife received reports of an eagle flying north through Glen Auldyn, over Ramsey and on towards the Point of Ayre.

The eagle has departed!

Dr Allan Mee (Project Manager of the Irish White-tailed Sea Eagle Reintroduction Programme) spoke with Neil Morris (Managing Director of local wildlife conservation charity Manx BirdLife) on the afternoon of 21st January to confirm that satellite tracking data was showing that Aonghus had indeed left the Isle of Man and had arrived safely in Dumfries & Galloway in Scotland after the sea crossing.

Aonghus continued his adolescent wanderings throughout early 2020, eventually arriving back in western Ireland. Dr Mee picks up the story, “Since returning from IoM [Aonghus] spent almost the whole year in SW Donegal, pretty much confined to a few square kilometres of upland with occasional visits to the coast. In September this year, he finally departed for Co. Mayo where he has been ever since. I guess like he did on the Isle of Man, he's not spent any significant periods of time on the coast. Clearly he hasn’t read the 'sea eagle' manual!”

Eagle heritage

In his original email alerting Manx BirdLife to Aonghus’s presence, Dr Mee included the following quotation:

'So we are descended from the eagle. We are an eagle nation. That is good, something to be proud of, because the eagle is the wisest of birds. He is the Great Spirit's messenger; he is a great warrior. That is why we always wore the eagle plume, and still wear it.'


Allen Moore, at that time National Bird Recorder for the Isle of Man, commented, “The Manx Gaelic word for an eagle is ‘urley’, similar to the word which appears a lot in Scottish Highland place names. We don't have any ‘urley’ place names [in the Isle of Man], but we do have one with the Norse name, ‘erne’. White-tailed Eagles nested until about 1814 on the [Isle of Man] coast at a place called Eairnyery, on the coast between the Calf of Man and Niarbyl … The place is named on the IOM Government 1:25,000 map.”

We continue to wish Aonghus well and look forward to learning of his first steps towards fatherhood in a few years’ time! We also thank Dr Mee for his kind updates and correspondence.

Further reading