Swanning about

I spent a good part of last weekend searching for Whooper swans in the International Swan Survey 2020, organized in Ireland by Birdwatch Ireland. Around a third of the Icelandic population – nearly 12,000 swans – flies to Ireland every winter to feed and shelter.  Despite the huge numbers, I spotted less than 30 in all; a few beside Ross Errily friary in Headford, most at Rahasane turlough near Craughwell and this family of birds near Lough Bunny in the Burren. As usual, I could hear far more than I saw – the distinctive goose-like honking of Whooper Swans is a common sound on floodlands and turloughs and the number of birds appears to be on the increase. I had no luck at all at Coole Park (though there were probably plenty of them out of sight – see here from 2018). The last survey in 2015 showed an increase in numbers – hopefully, this year’s survey will show further good news.