Musings and photos of wild and everyday life

Posts tagged “Whooper Swan

Whoopers & Greylags at Christmas

Whooper Swans and Greglag Geese neighbours for Christmas

Whooper Swans and Greglag Geese neighbours for Christmas

They arrived in October this year as most years and apart from some very mild mornings, have enhanced our view from the house since.

A particularly nice sight on a frosty Christmas morning.

Happy Christmas and a brilliant New Year to all.

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Moving On

Greylag Geese in Blessington FieldA very brief ‘less cold’ spell seems to have convinced the Whoopers to migrate back north.  The Greylags were not so easily fooled and still graze in Willie’s field.

Walking down the Liffey quays towards the lifting bridge, a group of Brent Geese had gathered a couple of weeks ago.  They are probably about to, or in the middle of migrating.

It is interesting to note their amazing travels while we lament their passing.

Whoopers typically fly to Iceland and northern Europe from Ireland while Greylags mainly return to Iceland.

Brent Geese, quite common flying over Dublin or grazing on grass fields, including football fields, in the Winter, head for Greenland or Canada.

Brent Geese on Liffey at Toll Swing bridge Dublin.

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It seems that when temperatures are beginning to get tolerable for us, the winter migrant birds get hot under the collar and feel the pull for colder climes.

Of course the weather this Winter and ‘Spring’ has been pretty miserable – one of the coldest March months on record.

But spring really is in full swing regardless of the cold and frost.  Witness the Crows at their rookeries, the Jackdaws sitting on wires or branches in pairs, not to mention the cute spindly-legged foals and the gorgeous young lambs.

Sheep & Lamb in Frosty field Rathmore Co Wicklow


Frosty Birds

Whooper Swans and Greylag Geese Frosty field BlessingtonMid-March and Spring is still springing but the weather has regressed – frost, snow and hail-stones seem to be more common than warming termperatures.

So the Whooper Swans and Greylag geese are still close-by.

The very idea of sitting with your belly on the frozen ground is enough to give the collycobbles!

When the birds move you can see a ‘melted’ space!  It can leave a patchwork pattern on the field.Whooper Swans in Frost field with Greylag Geese BlessingtonGreylag Geese in Frost field Blessington


Garden Finches

ooper Swans & Greylag Geese Blessington from homeWell Spring is gathering pace and the weather is drier.  Magpies are very obvious as they build elaborate nests and birds are amorous.

However we haven’t yet seen the first frogspawn in our Wicklow imitation of the North Pole and the Whoopers and Greylg Geese are still next door.

Greylag Geese flying in to land BlessingtonWe are not, of course, wishing our lovely neighbours would leave.  Whooper Swan resting in field BlessingtonThey are brilliant to watch as they shuffle across the fields, making sure not to miss any thick grass and leaving the fields smoother than many lawnmowers!

It’s more a question of figouring out where we are in the natural order after cold and wet spells.

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Interest inside our garden was even greater yesterday.Redpoll F BG

Glorious finches had their day.  Hard on the heels of the Bullfinch and Greenfinches of last post (https://cliffsview.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/more-signs/), the sun (and the nut feeder) brought out quite a range of finch beauties, some of which hadn’t been seen too much this year:-

  • Chaffinch
  • Greenfinch
  • Redpoll
  • Siskin
  • Goldfinch

and a special!

Goldfinch BG.

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Chaffinch M with Siskin behind in BG

Male Chaffinch with Siskin behind in back garden

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As I was getting accustomed to the array of finches battling for position on the feeder (not really a battle when the smaller but quite aggressive Siskin is about!), I thought I saw something different.

Could it be a bird long on my list of wannasees?

Sure was.  My first sighting of a Brambling.  It was a female in winter colouring, similar to a Chaffinch but a bit more striking without being more colourful.

She didn’t stay too long,  A coulpe of short visits was all I got but it has taken a long time to see…. and to find it at home!

Happy Days!

Brambling F W BG

Female Brambling in back garden

Brambling F W BG


River Liffey. Part 2 Anna’s Journey

Dingy in sail race LiffeyCommon Tern flying with fish Dublin Harbour nr Pigeon House Dublin

Black_headed Gull hovering Liffey docks

      Anna’s   Journey

Green Bouy No 14 in Dublin Harbour nr Pigeon HouseBlack Guillemot & crab Liffey Quays

Halpenny Bridge & Central Bank Dublin

Liffey Source Pool

Snow covered Kippure from frozen Blessington Lakes

Gorse & Liffey at Coronation Plantation

Liffey tumbling through rocks at Coronation Plantation

Rainbow Blessington LakesLittle Grebe on partly frozen Liffey at boat clubs Dublin


Roots Blessington LakesLiffey at Leixlip from air

K Club Hotel & Liffey Straffan Kildare

Stream entering frozen Blessington Lake

Whooper Swan group flying over Blessington Lakes


4s race Metro Regatta Blessington Lakes

Liffey Weir Lucan

Peregrine flying & calling

Customs House & Spire from Liffey

Liffey Cruise Boat & Jeanie Johnston

Liffey Quays Dublin

Ferry coming into Dublin Port; Bailey Lighthouse & Howth in back
Liffey Mouth & Howth from South Wall
Don't go for the destination
Dockland and SpeedboatXmas Lights Liffey Quays DublinGo for the Journey


Frrrr…eezing – Review of 2010 – December

DecemberHeavy Snow & Icicles

If the weather isn’t the warmest now, last December was making records for long and deep cold spells.  Heavy snow and ice continued from November causing havoc in a country not used to or prepared for, such conditions.

Many found themselves without the use of their cars – either abandoned on the road or stuck like ours in the driveway.  Even after digging out the car, negotiating the local road was tricky and it was thereafter left each evening  at the front of the driveway where the snow was kept to a reasonable level.  Actually the snow was only the top layer.  Most of the surface was very hard ice.

Icicle 'Excalibur' Blessington

Small drips from gutters had turned into icicles while any heavier drips made for formidable weapons.  One of ours was named ‘Excaliber’.

Heavy Snow on bird bath

Obviously conditions were very rough for wildlife and particularly birds.  Nuts in bird feeders were icy, bird baths were stacked up with snow and wild food was rare.

In Dublin, Stepen’s Green pond was completely frozen with birds skating, unwittingly on the surface.

Birds walk on water Stephen's GreenThe Phoenix Park looked fabulous on a walk from Islandbridge via the Park to Chapelizod and back by the Liffey.

We were first rewarded for being out in the freezing cold by the sight of a pair of Otters playing about in the Liffey.

Following that, deer were ambling across the road in the Park.

Fallow Deer stags crossing road in snow. Phoenix Park, Dublin

We were a little surprised to see as much wildlife as we did but they were probably as surprised by the weather as we were.

Fallow Deer stags in woods snow.  Phoenix Park

The liffey was partly frozen and birds did their best to survive.

Heron resting on Liffey in snow & ice near Chapelizod, Dublin

Wigeon drake with snow coat on LiffeyCormorant on Liffey near Island BridgeLittle Grebe on partly frozen LiffeyRedwing on Liffey in snowWalking onto frozen Blessington Lake
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Skulking in the reeds, we also got some fleeting views of a Water Rail.

Blessington lakes looked stunning over Christmas.  Risking a very cold wetting, we walked out over the lake for quite a distance before sense took over.

Trees were heavy with snow and blue skies brought out the brilliant white of the snow.

Blackbird in snowy tree Blessington LakesOverhead, Whooper Swans flew out over the lake looking for the water.

Whooper Swan group flying over Blessington Lakes

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Ice Crystals on frozen Blessington Lake
Ice Crystals on frozen Blessington Lake

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The cold spell was harsh and pretty inconvenient but it was seriously beautiful.