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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Whooper Swans

 

Hebrides bird sightings - Whooper Swans

Whooper Swans

Cygnus cygnus

Gaelic: Eala

Photograph © Andy L
Point - Isle of Lewis - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
27th September, 2008

"...the whoopers are the flock at tiumpan head loch".

When Andy next saw this group of Whooper Swans, he noticed that one had a coloured ring, reported it and the record got sent to Anna Jordan the Swan Database Officer (Whoopers and Bewick’s) at the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust.

Anna sent back the history of the ringed bird, it gives a family history of a Whooper going through Lewis and shows how much we learn from the ringing and tag reading as well as how far these birds travel.

Anna would appreciate it if we could send any further sightings of swans with coloured rings to her, so it is worth checking all swans for leg rings:

Anna Jordan
Swan Database Officer

Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT)
Slimbridge, Glos GL2 7BT, UK
Telephone 01453 891900
anna.jordan@wwt.org.uk
www.wwt.org.uk

 

EVENT_TYPE LOCATION EVENT DATE DEPARTURE SITE NAME AREA COUNTRY LAT LONG RECORDER_ID
Catch IS-GGT 10/08/1994 10/08/1994 Geldingavatn, Tunguheidi N-Mul Iceland 65°18.96'N 15°18.96'W BLB
Sighting IRL-ICL 12/10/1997 15/10/1997 Inch Levels, Lough Swilly, Co.Donegal Ireland 55°3.00'N 7°25.98'W 0
Sighting IRL-ICL 18/10/1998 21/10/1998 Inch Levels, Lough Swilly, Co.Donegal Ireland 55°3.00'N 7°25.98'W 0
Sighting NI-ANR 23/10/1998 23/10/1998 Annaghroe Co. Tyrone Northern Ireland 54°20.52'N 6°52.02'W 0
Sighting IRL-ICL 29/11/1998 29/11/1998 Inch Levels, Lough Swilly, Co.Donegal Ireland 55°3.00'N 7°25.98'W 0
Sighting NI-CLK 14/03/1999 14/03/1999 Clay Lake, S of Keady Co. Armagh Northern Ireland 54°13.50'N 6°43.02'W 0
Sighting IS-SDO 24/05/1999 24/05/1999 Skjoldolfsstadir, Jokuldalur N-Mul Iceland 65°18.96'N 15°6.96'W AP
Sighting IRL-ICL 13/10/1999 13/10/1999 Inch Levels, Lough Swilly, Co.Donegal Ireland 55°3.00'N 7°25.98'W 0
Sighting IRL-PCF 21/01/2001 21/01/2001 Piercefield, Lough Iron Co.West Meath Ireland 53°35.28'N 7°28.50'W GMc
Sighting GB-LAP 26/10/2001 26/10/2001 Loch a Phuill, Isle of Tiree Inner Hebrides United Kingdom 56°28.02'N 6°55.98'W JB
Sighting IRL-ICL 28/10/2001 28/10/2001 Inch Levels, Lough Swilly, Co.Donegal Ireland 55°3.00'N 7°25.98'W GMc
Sighting IRL-ICL 29/10/2001 29/10/2001 Inch Levels, Lough Swilly, Co.Donegal Ireland 55°3.00'N 7°25.98'W GMc
Sighting NI-CLK 18/11/2001 18/11/2001 Clay Lake, S of Keady Co. Armagh Northern Ireland 54°13.50'N 6°43.02'W JD
Sighting NI-CLK 18/11/2001 18/11/2001 Clay Lake, S of Keady Co. Armagh Northern Ireland 54°13.50'N 6°43.02'W GMc
Sighting IS-LNS 07/10/2003 07/10/2003 Lonsfjordur S-Mul Iceland 64°25.02'N 14°39.00'W GMc
Sighting IS-LNS 08/10/2003 08/10/2003 Lonsfjordur S-Mul Iceland 64°25.02'N 14°39.00'W GMc
Sighting NI-TLW 24/10/2004 24/10/2004 Tullnawood Lake Co. Armagh Northern Ireland 54°12.30'N 6°40.68'W JD
Sighting NI-TLW 24/10/2004 24/10/2004 Tullnawood Lake Co. Armagh Northern Ireland 54°12.30'N 6°40.68'W GMc
Sighting NI-AGN 15/01/2005 15/01/2005 Aughnagurgan lough Co. Armagh Northern Ireland 54°12.96'N 6°39.48'W JD
Sighting NI-CLK 27/02/2005 27/02/2005 Clay Lake, S of Keady Co. Armagh Northern Ireland 54°13.50'N 6°43.02'W JD
Sighting NI-CLK 06/03/2005 06/03/2005 Clay Lake, S of Keady Co. Armagh Northern Ireland 54°13.50'N 6°43.02'W JD
Sighting NI-CLK 13/03/2005 13/03/2005 Clay Lake, S of Keady Co. Armagh Northern Ireland 54°13.50'N 6°43.02'W JD
Sighting IS-LNS 01/10/2005 01/10/2005 Lonsfjordur S-Mul Iceland 64°25.02'N 14°39.00'W GMc
Sighting NI-CLK 17/01/2006 17/01/2006 Clay Lake, S of Keady Co. Armagh Northern Ireland 54°13.50'N 6°43.02'W JD
Sighting NI-CLK 23/12/2007 23/12/2007 Clay Lake, S of Keady Co. Armagh Northern Ireland 54°13.50'N 6°43.02'W JD
Sighting GB-LEL 27/03/2008 27/03/2008 Loch an Eilein, Isle of Tiree Inner Hebrides United Kingdom 56°28.98'N 6°52.98'W JMB
Sighting GB-TIU 01/10/2008 01/10/2008 Tiumpan Loch, Lewis Outer Hebrides United Kingdom 58°15.00'N 6°8.04'W MSC

 

Our Swan photographs

Whooper Swan
Whooper Swan
Whooper Swan
Whooper Swans
Whooper Swans
   
   
Whooper Swan
Whooper Swan
 
Mute Swan
Black swan
   
 

Mute Swans
other photos too

   

 

  • Whooper Swan
  • Cygnus cygnus
  • Gaelic: Eala
  • UK: AMBER LIST. 3-7 wild pairs 6,920 birds RSPB
  • UK: Scarce Breeder, Winter Visitor , scarce in summer (very small numbers recorded in most years). The wintering population of Barra and the Uists is of national importance
  • Breeds: Nest huge mound of vegetation. Often on small islet. Lays 4-6 white eggs, incubated by female. Guarded by Male. Northern Atlantic: Sub-Arctic Iceland, Europe, Asia,
  • Winters: South of breeding range to Africa, India, China (In UK Oct - Mar)
  • Habitat: Large areas of water: lakes, marshes, rivers, estuaries, wetlands,
  • Diet: They swim, straining water for food, also eat aquatic plants growing at bottom. Also some grazing on land, grass, grain, potatoes
  • Larger than Bewick's Swan. Black legs. Triangular-shaped black bill that has a large patch of yellow on it (always more yellow than black - Bewick's Swans always have more black than yellow). Tend to fly in formation (Bewick's Swans usually do not). Juvenile grey or brown with pink & grey bill.
  • Max recorded age 26yrs 6mths. Typical lifespan 9yrs
  • Listen to a Whooper Swan (RSPB site) The noisiest of the Swans - deep honking calls when in flight (Bewick's Swans are usually silent)
  • Similar birds: Bewick's Swan (rare here), Mute Swan

 

Whooper swans pair for life, and their cygnets stay with them all winter; family groups sometimes include offspring from previous years.

 

In 2007 seven whooper swans were tracked by satellite from their breeding grounds in Iceland to their wintering grounds in South-West Scotland for the BBC's Autumnwatch programme.

Previously the starting and end points of their journey were known but not the exact path that they followed.

Some went via Caithness.
Others came down through Lewis.
One is still on the move down in Donnegal Bay area (28 Nov)

On the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust web site you can look at satellite photographs and follow the route each bird took ( zooming on Lewis etc)

(Bit slow on dialup internet access but still useable)

 

There is an article about the seven Whooper Swans in the Telegraph in the online (8th December, 2007) it is full of interesting whooper swan facts like a group of swans that was picked up on radar at 23,000ft during strong Northerly winds and snow storms. They used a tailwind that reached 180mph to fly above the snowfall.

 

 

Whooper Swan records in the Western Isles

Fairly common passage (occurs in small numbers), and winter visitor (occurs in small numbers), scarce in summer (very small numbers recorded in most years)
The wintering population of Barra and the Uists is of national importance
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)

I estimate about 50 Whooper Swans wintering in Lewis, a few less than that in Harris, with the majority of the wintering population (an additional 200-300 birds) being in the Uists.

 

In 2008 Whooper Swans successfully raised young at Balranald Nature Reserve, North Uist. Although the Whooper Swan is fairly common in winter most of them leave in Spring to breed elsewhere, there are very few annual UK breeding records. Six cygnets were born in the Balranald nest.


On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the Whooper Swan is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)

 

 

Collective nouns for Swans

A ballet, team, whiting, squadron of swans (dubious this one!)
A bank, herd, sounder, drift, lamentation of swans
A game, herd, bevy of swans
A regatta of swans (on water)
A whiteness of swans
An eyrar of swans
A wedge of swans (flying in a "V")

From WIKI

 

 

Other local bird photographs

Sources of information for the bird sightings section


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