Fresh from winning Birdwatch Magazine’s Local Hero award, 13-year-old nature-lover and acclaimed blogger Dara McAnulty has raised over £5,000 for the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group’s ‘Hawk Eyes’ project, which will see ecologists satellite tagging protected birds of prey in a bid to eradicate wildlife crime.

Dara, whose blog about nature and how he lives with Asperger’s has received much recognition, including a BBC Springwatch Wildlife Hero award, trekked 45 kilometres last weekend through the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark.

READ: Fermanagh nature enthusiast Dara is Chris Packham’s real life hero

His Just Giving account ( is open for another few days and, to date, he is “shocked and surprised” to have raised £5,485.

Dara felt angry when he read that 57 birds of prey (also known as raptors) had been subject to reckless or intentional criminal activity in Northern Ireland in 2014.
“But anger gets you nowhere. You need to be positive and act instead of just talking,” said Dara.

He approached the Northern Ireland Raptor Study Group and suggested that he would raise money so they could satellite tag Hen Harriers, Buzzards, Red Kites and Peregrine Falcons. He argued that satellite tagging the birds would help catch those committing wildlife crime and would “provide heightened awareness of these keystone species.”

Outlining why raptors are important, Dara said: “Raptors are brilliant at controlling rodents, small mammals, sick birds and carcasses. They are the cleaners and our environment would not work properly without them. They are what is known as ‘indicator’ species. Because they are at the top of the food chain we can learn a lot about how climate is changing and how other species are faring.”

He added: “Every time I see a Buzzard or Hen Harrier in Fermanagh, I feel really proud. It means our eco systems are working properly.”
Dara admits the two-day hike was tough but he was spurred on by “nature and wildlife” as well as his mum Róisín and ecologist Paul Larmor.
The intrepid teenager is “excited and honoured” to be a part of the Hawk Eye project, saying: “It’s going to be brilliant for science and conservation.”