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Swans & geese: status summaries

other species
Waterford Birds: species status summaries

Mute Swan  Cygnus olor


Common breeding resident.



Bewick’s Swan  Cygnus bewickii


Scarce & irregular winter-visitor, but previously regular in winter.



Whooper Swan  Cygnus cygnus


Common winter-visitor; rare in summer.


Several hybrid Whooper x Mute Swans, of unknown origin, have been recorded in recent years:



Bean Goose  Anser brachyrhynchus


Rare winter-visitor: one record.


2003:    One, Kinsalebeg, 20 November.!


The same bird was also seen on the Co Cork side of the River Blackwater, along the Tourig River, on 15 December 2003.



Pink-footed Goose  Anser brachyrhynchus


Scarce but now regular winter-visitor.


First recorded in 1981, at Whiting Bay on 12 October.



White-fronted Goose  Anser albifrons


Scarce passage-migrant & winter-visitor.



Greylag Goose  Anser anser


Common but localized winter-visitor.


Fields “near Coolfin” were noted as “a regular haunt” in the Irish Bird Report for 1964, and annual or near-annual winter counts have been available since 1963/64. These indicate a marked rise in annual population peaks from under 1000 in the 1960s to almost 600 in 1981/82. Peak counts exceeded 500 in at least 11 of the next 17 winters (up to 1999/2000), and reached an all-time high of 684 on 12 February 1999. Subsequently, numbers appear to have declined substantially, with peaks of the order of 300 birds from 2004/05 to 2006/07. 



Snow Goose  Anser caerulescens


Vagrant: one confirmed record.


1972:    Two (phase?), Tramore Backstrand, 21 October.


The Irish Bird Report for 1972 noted that the “possibility [these] birds were escaped cannot be overlooked.”  However, wild Snow Geese winter annually at the Wexford Wildfowl reserve, thus it is possible that the Tramore birds were also from a wild population.


There were also an unconfirmed report of a Snow Goose with the Greylag Geese at Coolfin in the 1970s or 1980s, but further details are not available.



Canada Goose  Branta canadensis


Rare winter-visitor, most likely involving feral birds.


1996:    One, Tallow, 14 December, considered at the time to be of “uncertain origin.”


The species has also been recorded at Kilmeaden Pools and Dungarvan, most likely wanderers from feral populations in Co Cork or elsewhere in Ireland.



Barnacle Goose  Branta leucopsis


Scarce winter-visitor.



Brent Goose  Branta bernicla


Common winter-visitor (suspecies hrota), rare but annual winter-visitor (subspecies bernicla and nigricans)


The main sites for light-bellied Brent Geese (hrota) are Tramore Backstrand and Dungarvan Harbour, both of which regularly hold internationally important populations (>1% ) of this subspecies. Other regular sites include Clonea Strand (some interchange with Dungarvan Harbour), Waterford Harbour and Whiting Bay.  Occasionally recorded feeding elsewhere (e.g. Annestown beach).  More frequently recorded flying east or west past various points along the coast, e.g. Brownstown Head. 


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