RTE Television

The Eagles Return

Golden Eagle

Wildlife series following the trials of three teams bringing wild birds of prey back to Ireland after an absence of over 100 years.

It is the most important Irish wildlife story in decades - the return of some of the largest birds of prey ever to darken Irish skies, the White Tailed Eagle, the Golden Eagle and the Red Kite.

From scaling cliffs in the wilds of Norway, Scotland and Wales on the hunt for new chicks, to hiring planes to fly them home, to nursing them through the first crucial months of freedom in Ireland, this series has powerful wildlife, strong human characters allied to genuine adventure and drama as the story of the birds survival in Ireland unfolds.

The reintroduction involves a vast amount of work for a team of highly trained specialists from the Golden Eagle Trust and for three years the series had exclusive access to the guardians of the project. It follows their triumphs and tragedies as they track the birds from capture abroad through the first months of their release in Ireland. This is the most crucial time of all and the young birds face many dangers - from bad weather to poison and inevitably deaths occur, each one a personal blow to the people involved. With radio & satellite tags, the guardians follow the released birds progress across the country and wait and hope they will survive through their first winter.

World-class wildlife photography, unfolding dramatic storylines, strong human & animal interest, important environmental, cultural and heritage themes - all combine to make this a compelling and important series.


Programme 1: White Tailed Chicks And The Golden Eagle

Programme one follows Allan Mee as he travels to remote Norway on his hunt for White Tailed Eagle chicks. With just a week to find 20 birds, Allan is under pressure and relies on the generous help of his Norwegian partners. In Donegal, Lorcan O'Toole is getting ready to release Golden Eagle chicks into Glenveagh National Park. With the reintroduction programme under increasing pressure, the survival of these six new arrivals is crucial for the success of the Golden Eagle in Ireland.

Programme Two: Wild Golden Eagle chicks

Programme Two of The Eagles Return takes us to the rolling hills of mid-Wales as we follow Damian Clarke, project manager of the Red Kite Re-introduction Project, on his trip to collect chicks to bring back to Ireland. Working with the Red Kite Trust, Damian must find and capture 26 wild birds for returning to Ireland and release in Co Wicklow.

Lorcan O'Toole treks the mountains of Donegal in search of what this project is all about - the first wild Golden Eagle chicks to be born in Ireland. Will all his work and effort over the last ten years have paid off? And will he have successful breeding this year? And in Kerry, we catch up with Allan Mee as he tracks his newly released birds through their first tender weeks flying wild.

Programme Three: Golden Eagle, White Tailed Eagle & Red Kite

Week three of The Eagles Return catches up with all three birds - Golden Eagle, White Tailed Eagle & Red Kite - as they now survive for themselves in the wild. With project managers tracking the birds around the clock, tensions rise as birds begin to go missing. Sadly their worst fears are realised - dead birds are discovered and the cause of death is confirmed as poison. Anger rises within the farming community as they feel they are being blamed and they fight to defend their reputation. Can the two groups work together? And can these magnificent birds of prey battle to survive in the Irish countryside once again?

Programme Four: A look back over the three projects

In Programme Four of The Eagles Return we reveal unique nest camera footage of the first Irish Red Kite chicks in over 200 years. We meet up with Lorcan O'Toole in Sligo as he discovers the devastating loss of one of the first Irish born Golden Eagle chicks to poison. And in Donegal he heads into another nest to pull out a weak chick and see if he can save it. As the series draws to a close we look back over the three projects, their highs and lows and the hopes for the future of Birds of Prey in Ireland.

Click here for further information on the Reintroduction Projects.....

The Eagles Return
  • RTÉ One, Tuesday 12 October 2010, 7.00pm
  • RTÉ One, Tuesday 19 October 2010, 7.00pm
  • RTÉ One, Tuesday 26 October 2010, 7.00pm
  • RTÉ One, Tuesday 2 November 2010, 7.00pm

Related Links:

The Golden Eagle Trust LTD: www.goldeneagle.ie

Wild Journeys (RTÉ series): www.rte.ie/tv/wildjourneys

National Parks & Wildlife Service: www.npws.ie

Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government: www.environ.ie

Glenveagh National Park: www.glenveaghnationalpark.ie

Gartan Outdoor Education Centre: www.gartan.com

Wicklow Mountains National Park: www.wicklowmountainsnationalpark.ie

Killarney National Park: www.killarneynationalpark.ie

Welsh Kite Trust: www.welshkitetrust.org

The Heritage Council: www.heritagecouncil.ie

EU Life Nature funding: ec.europa.eu/atoz_en.htm

Norwegian Institute for Nature Research: www.nina.no/NINAEnglish

Directorate for Nature Management in Norway: www.dirnat.no

Crossing the Line Films: www.ctlfilms.com

RTÉ Wild Ireland Strand: www.rte.ie/wildireland

Birdwatch Ireland: www.birdwatchireland.ie

Kila Music: www.kila.ie