The annual invasion of Barnacle Geese on Islay each autumn is a wonderful spectacle. However, there are other birds migrating from the same northern region as the geese and their migration, although not in such large numbers as the geese, is just as spectacular. I'm talking about the arrival of whooper swans from Iceland. Unlike the barnacle geese that stay on Islay during the winter, the swans are only here to rest and feed for a short while before they continue south to estuaries and wetlands in Ireland and the mainland where they stay until spring. The whooper swan is quite rare and can be found on the Amber List. A few facts about whooper swans:
Whooper swans require large areas of water to live in, especially when they are still growing, because their body weight cannot be supported by their legs for extended periods of time. The whooper swan spends much of its time swimming, straining the water for food, or eating plants that grow on the bottom. Whooper swans pair for life, and their cygnets stay with them all winter; they are sometimes joined by offspring from previous years. Continue reading.....
Whooper swans at Loch Gorm
This autumn sees quite a lot of whooper swans on Islay with a large group present on Ardnave Loch, around 200 to 400 of them. I've been told that they are here longer than usual because they need clear conditions to continue their migration south and east. With the misty conditions of the last weeks that might have prevented them from leaving. So for now we can enjoy these beautiful birds before they leave Islay.