Bird's Eye View of Bute

The Whooper Swans

(1) Original pair
(1) Original pair
(2) Whooper Swans
(2) Whooper Swans



The Wooper Swans

Following on from the Yellowhammers and the Waxwing that arrived on Bute, we also have other birds that are usually here every winter but not in such great numbers that we had this winter, and this is one of the species, the “Whooper Swan”

We had a flock of thirty five adults and five immature ones on the fields at Loch Ascog on 01-11-2000, but they were just stopping for a rest and a feed before moving on the following day, and in other years we had smaller flocks . but the ones that we have here, have been here for weeks. It started off with thirty six being reported to me by a local man 'Gordon Calder' on the Langalchorad fields at Kingarth. They were there for a while then most of them dispersed themselves arround the Island
They were to be found at the Kirk Dam, Greenan Loch, Kerrytonlia Beach, Largizean Fields, and many other sites, with these ones been seen in the fields beside the Tramways Walk near to the Ettrick Smiddy. They were right at the hedge, which is unusual, as the middle of a field is usually their preferred spot, but these ones only moved a short distance away, then sat down, maybe they had just arrived and were exhausted ? The easiest ones to see were the Kirk Dam ones, as they were always close together and well away from the local Mute ones, and could be viewed in comparative comfort from the bird hide.

They are lovely birds , with straight necks, making them that much different from the usual S shaped Mute Swans necks that we have here, and can easily be identified with this difference from afar. Their bills are yellow, with black at the bottom and the tip.
One thing that I have noticed over the years, is that the Mute swans very rarely land on the ground here, with the lochs being the preferred place to alight, in fact I have only seen one landing in a field at Loch Ascog in all my life. As they come into land on the water, they keep their wings high and then using their large webbed feet, they water ski to a halt, but doing the same on land would end up in disaster as their feet would dig in and they would go head over heels and possibly sustain very bad injuries. They have to alight slowly with very fast wing beats, then drop straight on to the ground keeping their wings out of harms way and running to keep up with their speed, and it is not a gentle landing.
The Whoopers seem to land on fields all the time with no problems, perhaps as they come from Iceland, they are used to landing on hard surfaces, like ice?
Also on Bute ,at the Greenan Loch were ninety eight Canada Geese, which is the most that I have seen here, with sights of only up to about a dozen or so in the past, but I have covered them and the Mute Swans years ago, so this is just to tell you what is there.
Well the winters not yet over ,so we will keep our eyes peeled for other arrivals, and one that you must see is the Little Egret that is moving from loch to loch , but it's favourite place is the Greenan Loch, and as yet I have not got close enough to get a photo of it, but I will keep trying.

Norrie Mulholland.


First Published in the Buteman. 26-03-2010.




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