With so many Wicklowites heading down under these days, residents of Wicklow and Bray were surprised to find their areas had become home to some Antipodean guests.
A brace of Black Swans have been spotted in and around Wicklow harbour in recent times, augmenting the already fine array of wildlife to be seen in the surrounding area. The pair were spotted in Bray on Monday.
Black Swans are native to Australia, and just as the many Irish who venture to the southern hemisphere need air travel to get there, it's unlikely that this pair made it to Ireland by their own power either. Their kind remain very popular with wildfowl collectors across Britain and Ireland, and have escaped from wildfowl parks around these islands with increasing frequency, even establishing themselves as a breeding species in some areas.
They are fiercely loyal to their partner, and so the pair in Wicklow Harbour are likely a mated couple, according to Birdwatch Ireland. They enjoy much the same habitat and food as our native Mute Swans and while aggressive during the breeding season are normally approachable during other times of year, readily accepting bread like their slightly larger Irish counterparts. It is unlikely that they pose any threat to native wildlife.
Birdwatch Ireland would be very interested to hear of any unusual interactions between the Black Swans and the native fauna, and anyone who encounters such behaviour is asked to report to firstname.lastname@example.org.