Welcome to the
Wexford Wildfowl Reserve Website
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THE EDUCATION OFFICE IS OPEN FOR THE AUTUMN WINTER 2014 SEASON.
ONCE AGAIN THE DATES ARE BOOKING UP VERY FAST.
IF YOU DONT GET A DATE THIS YEAR WE WILL PUT YOU TOP OF THE LIST FOR NEXT SPRING/SUMMER.
SUMMER IS OVER!
Our Summer and Heritage Week Programmes have just concluded. The weather was not at its salubrious best for Heritage Week, but there was still enough sunshine and warmth for us to see and catch many insects on our nature walk in the Raven and our bug and butterfly hunts in the Snipe Field and Visitor Centre. Our bat walk along the boardwalk behind the Pump House and Pat Walsh Hide revealed lots of bats of different species including Daubenton's bat, who hunts over water.
A huge thank you to all the people who turned up, over half a thousand of you, to our Tuesday and Thursday events through the Summer. The weather was kind, only once were we rained off. And we caught a wide variety of land and water invertebrates from tiny water mites and flies to some spectacularly big dragonfly nymphs and beautiful fritillary butterflies.
SPRING EVENTS 2014
We have had another successful and enjoyable Spring/Summer term, we can take bookings for September to November.
Same as every year the dates booking up quickly so booking over the summer or early September is advised!
It's the summer again and so our summer migrants are here.
In fact we have had our 1st Wheatear, Sand & House Martin, Chiffchaff, Willow Warblers, Swallow, Whimbrel, Sandwich and Little Tern on the slob/harbour and Black Redstart in the county. Also a Hobby at Carnsore Point, 1st April. Remember if you do see migratory species don't for get to log them on springalive.net.
Other birds to see here from the hides and tower including our geese and swans include Greenshank, Redshank, Snipe, Teal, Buzzard, Hen Harrier, Merlin, Kestrel, Peregrine, Goldeneye, Great-crested & Little Grebe, Little Egret, Great Northern Diver, Shoveler, Gadwall.....
Some recent sightings of species of particular interest include Spotted Redshank, Red-necked, Black-necked & Slavonian Grebe, Spoonbill and White-tailed Sea Eagle.
White-tailed Eagle has been seen for that last 3 days as of 21st March.
14th April I counted 7 Greenland White-fronted geese, 1 Whooper Swan and a few 100 Brent. All geese are long gone now.
There is a Spoonbill on the slob (19th May)
Another sign of spring is tadpoles.
The frog spawn in the tank at reception here in the centre has turned into 100's of tadpoles. In fact there were so many I had to release about 400-500 back to the pond from where they came.
Don't forget we are a DPSM centre.
Up comming events.
National Biodiversity Data Centre as part of its 2014 workshop programme will be running 3 workshops here at WWR.
Beginner Birdwatching with Dick Coombes of BirdWatch Ireland 12th April 10am-4pm. (A great success)
Bird survey techniques with Dr.Olivia Crowe of Birdwatch Ireland 23rd April 10am-4pm. (Another great success)
Yellow asteraceae identification with Paul Green 11th August 10am-4pm.
These workshops need to be booked through biodiversityireland.ie as spaces are limited.
World Migratory Bird Day on this weekend 10th/11th May.
I will be in the tower for much of the day this Sunday the 11th. I hope to see and point out as many of our migrants to all who want to join. Don't forget to bring your binoculars!
National Biodiversity Week on 17th - 25th May.
Greenland white-fronts migration south and winter weather
Cold or wet weather poses no problems for the insulated and waterproof geese that are already here but when the more southerly winds are not blowing in their favour of the geese still up in Iceland wait for a change of wind direction. Strong fliers as they are, they still need a following wind from the North to help them carry their hefty selves all the way from Iceland. As it is they lose half a kilo (about a pound) on their way here. Geese are expert judges of their fat reserves and can 'read' the wind direction and speeds that will take them on their route. They can also tell how far to go before turning back if necessary so they do not run out of strength before they either arrive at their destination or, if they must turn back, return to where they began.
Birds counted on 24th October 2013 were 5,000 Greenland White-fronted Geese, 1,500 Golden Plovers, 800 or more Black-tailed Godwit, 45 Whooper Swans (not to be mistaken for the Mute Swans you can see from the Pat Walsh Hide), 10 Liittle Egrets, 6 Pink-footed Geese, one solitary Barnacle Goose, a Kingfisher, a Spotted Redshank, a Hen Harrier, 2 Merlins, a Kestrel and 2 Buzzards.
HOMES FOR SWIFTS OCCUPIED BY SQUATTERS
Seven swift boxes were put up on Thursday October 10th under the eaves on the west side of the tower, you can see them as you come in to the grounds of the Visitor centre. Before the first hour was over, house sparrows had occupied five of them. We will have to tape over the entrances for the winter and open them in May when we put up the tape and swift-speaker. It is not that we're hostile to sparrows but swifts are far less numerous and encouraging these enigmatic and mysterious birds to live at the Visitor Centre is a much-cherished ambition of ours. Don't worry on behalf of the sparrows. They have no difficulty finding homes of their own.
Wexford Wildfowl Reserve
Wexford Harbour and its Slobs, by their location and geomorphological structure, are natural havens for birds. Situated on the south-east coast of Ireland, they are the closest point for birds migrating into or out of Ireland from Britain and the Continent from a southerly direction.
Waders and wildfowl in particular are attracted to the area where the flat landscape and the wide shallow harbour with its sandbars and mud banks provide safe areas to feed, loaf, roost and breed.
Wexford Harbour opening to the Irish Sea to the east, is partially protected by Rosslare Point to the south, the Raven sand dune system to the north and the Fort and adjacent sandbars in the middle. From the west, the harbour is fed by the meandering River Slaney which, in its lower reaches, is tidal.
The Slob lands were reclaimed from the sea in the 1840's, with the building of the sea wall and the pump house. For more information on the history of the area please visit our history section.
From early October through to the middle of April, the North and South Slobs and the Harbour are home to thousands of ducks, geese, swans and waders making this a site of major international importance for wildfowl and waders. In addition, during spring and autumn, large numbers of birds on migration stop to feed in these rich areas.
Click here to see what's on offer for visitors
A yellow-browed warbler was seen by Hook Head onthe last day of September. a rare visitor from Siberia.
A few Sedge Warblers, Reed Warblers, Tree Sparrows, Swallows, House and Sand Martin, Curlew, Lapwing, Whimbrel and many more may be seen from our hides.
Along the sea wall Sandwich, Little, Common and Arctic Terns have been spotted.
Seen in September:
17th Sept. 1st 7 Brent Geese of the season seen flying along the sea wall...the winter is coming!
Brent Geese usually arrive a little earlier than the Greenland White Fronts, and come from Arctic Canada, even further North. They are the second most numerous Goose to winter on the Slob, typically two to three thousand of them.
Artic Skua, Dunlin, Kingfisher, Little Stint*, Green* & Wood* Sandpiper, (16th-...still here 29th) Lesser Yellowlegs***, Spotted Redshank* (24th & 25th), Godwits, Hen Harrier, Chiffchaff**, American Golden Plover***and Willow** Warbler.
Note: There could always be other rarer sandpipers and warblers in their respective flocks. Rare migrants or lost vagrants often find flocks of similar resident birds and fly, feed and roost with them, sharing their safety in numbers and finding all the good local food scources.
* Passage migrants passing through Ireland from northern breeding grounds going south for the winter.
** Summer migrants which have finished breeding in Ireland and are ready to head south also.
*** American vagrant blown across the Atlantic.
Also seen in July:
Common sandpipers and large numbers of Godwits.
Also seen in June:
Cuckoo, Short-eared Owl.
Also seen in May:
Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Yellow Wagtail (Adult male), Whitethroat.
Schools are gearing up for the new academic year and so is our education programme for the 2013/2014 school year.
Any school wishing to book activities for this Autumn please contact the centre at
076 100 2664 & 087 2646433.
Summer 2013 Family Activities:
Our twice-weekly summer activities were a great success, helped by the fine weather in what must have been the best Summer in years.
Click here to find out more.
Thursday 18th July we had a visit form Teresanne O'Reilly from Beat 102-103 to the Raven Wood where John and Andrew were running the summer activity.
National Heritage Week: another great week of activities in 2013.
Click the link for details
The Geese left in March and April for another summer, but they will soon be back!! While they are away you can still come and visit to see our summer birds including the swallows who are raising their chicks in our hides.
We had our tadpole tank set up in the centre until the 13th of June when we released the last of the froglets to our ponds (well away from the hungry ducks).
Winter Season 2012-2013 Updates
The first of last winter seasons Greenland White-fronted geese and Whooper swans arrived on Saturday 29th September. The latest and last count for the season from 16th April is 403 Greenland White-fronts. Unfortunately the percentage of juveniles in the population is at a record low of only 4.86% with an average brood size of 2.63 young per breeding pair. Of the many other species there are over 1000 light-bellied Brent Geese. Greenland White-fronted geese pairs don't breed every year and no two years are the same, read all about them here
Along with these there were many other birds to be seen in the fields and ponds around our tower including Curlew, Teal, Oystercatcher, Snipe, Lapwing, Black and Bar-tailed Godwit, Moorhen and many, many more.
Our winter visitors are gone but will be back this coming autumn and winter.Our new sightings to the reserve can be found here