Musings and photos of wild and everyday life

Winter Woolies and Whoopers

Viburnum flowers winterWell the cold continues but maybe not as bad as previous years – yet.  The temptation is to stay wrapped in woollies indoors.  But winter is an interesting time in the great outdoors.

Firstly the winter flowering shrubs such as Viburnum brighten gardens on even the dullest days.

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Whooper Swans in rear field Blessington 1879x

Secondly, as a side benefit of the cold, winter migrators such as Swans and Geese are attracted to Ireland.  We have the pleasure of living beside prime Whooper Swan & Greylag Geese real estate.

For many years, fairly large flocks could be seen and heard just over our garden wall.  In recent years they have been less in number and sometimes absent – particularly the geese.  Perhaps they found alternate accommodation or perhaps global warming had shifted them.

This year there are reasonably large flocks of Greylag Geese and about 20 Whooper Swans.

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Whooper Swan stretching in rear field BlessingtonWhooper Swans young & old in rear field Blessington.

Whoopers really are large birds .  Whooper Swan resting in rear field BlessingtonWatching them as they feed, rest, stretch and fly is a  real pleasure, especially from the comfort of the house.

As wild birds, they are easily disturbed and tend to stay well removed from our wall. To see them properly usually requires binoculars.  But sometimes they come closer, where perhaps the grass is thicker.

The birds move between the lakes and the fields and make quite a sight in the air – like large jets, it seems unreeasonable that they should be able to fly.  In fact they are amongst the largest flying creatures in the world.

And yet they are very good flyers and cover great distances, usually coming to Ireland from Iceland and Northern Europe.

Whooper Swan feeding in rear field Blessington.

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They are also a joy to hear.  Their honking sounds gave them their name, which was apparently originally Hooper.

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The Swans stay fairly close together but sometimes intermingle with the Geese.

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Greylag Goose walking in rear field Blessington.

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Greylag Geese are fairly common in Ireland in winter.  They are of course much smaller than the Whoopers and much darker.  It is only their number and sounds that make them conspicuous.

They too have probably travelled from Iceland where they breed.

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Greylag Goose in rear field Blessington.

While not ‘showy’ they are still striking when seen up close, with browny grey and white plumage, an orange beak and pinkish legs.

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So plenty of reasons to venture out and smell the flowers.

Viburnum flower buds winter

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4 responses

  1. Brian Conway

    nice one Cliff

    January 27, 2013 at 5:26 pm

  2. Jimmy

    Cliff,

    Great photos – those missing geese just want better neighbours!

    Jimmy.

    January 28, 2013 at 10:07 am

  3. Thanks guys.

    January 29, 2013 at 10:32 pm

  4. Pingback: Swans & Cygnets | Cliff'sView Blog

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