Unusual tourists flock to Wicklow
Published 13/11/2013 | 05:22
With winter setting in and the temperature starting to plummet, many people around Wicklow begin to wish they could depart for warmer climes.
This being the case, it might come as a surprise to some to find that many wild birds travel from far and wide to winter in the Garden County, and if you're lucky you might just encounter one or two over the comming months.
'Wicklow is a very interesting county because of its location and range of habitats,' Niall Hatch of Birdwatch Ireland told the Wicklow People. 'We've got coasts, bogs, woodland and mountains.'
This variety of habitats draws many visitors from more northern latitudes, such as the Brent and Greylag Goose who arrive from Arctic Canada and Iceland to over-winter in the east Wicklow wetlands and west Wicklow respectively.
The Brent Geese are often joined in Wicklow's low-lying wetlands by Whooper Swans, a shyer cousin of our native Mute Swans who prefer to graze meadows than tuck into bread thrown by friendly humans!
The Murrough and Broadlough often play host ato a number of visiting ducks such as Wigeon and Teal whose numbers are bolstered by fresh arrivals from further north.
But those of you who would rather stay tucked indoors as the cold begins to bite can take comfort in the fact that winter residents can be found in our own back gardens.
In winter, Wicklow's compliment of native thrushes is bolstered by two new migrants, the Redwing (which flies in from Iceland and Scandinavia) and the Fieldfare (a winter visitor from eastern Europe) frequent gardens during the worst of the winter weather in search of food.
They are joined in the most severe winters by the Waxwing, an exquisitely ornate arrival from northern Europe which often ventures into housing estates to gorge on berries.