OUR EDUCATION OFFICE IS REGRETTABLY CLOSED FROM DECEMBER 1ST 2013 UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.
ALL SCHOOLS WILL BE CONTACTED ON THE RESUMPTION OF SERVICES.
THIS NOTICE WILL BE UPDATED ON THE RESUMPTION OF SERVICES.
Welcome to the
Wexford Wildfowl Reserve Website
The Geese are now settling in for the Winter
The Geese are here.
The Geese are now well and truly settled in their wintering grounds on the North Slob. In the course of the last two months, huge flocks have streamed over from their mid-journey stop in Iceland, many arriving at all hours of the night. A count on the North Slob on the 18th of November showed that over 8,000 White-fronts had arrived. The previous count on the 24th of October revealed 5,000 Greenland White-fronted Geese, ten times as many as only a week before. This number has been increasing by the day and there are more to come. These figures are similar to previous years, by November's end there are usually about 8,000 of them, representing about 25 tonnes of goose.
By now the Autumn feeding grounds in Iceland have been vacated, the flocks have arrived on their Irish and Scottish winter resorts of the Wexford Slobs (8-10,000 each year) and Islay in Western Scotland (over 5,000) with smaller numbers scattered around other parts of Ireland and Scotland. Many migrating birds that winter in Ireland and Scotland come from accross the Atlantic, helped by the presence of Iceland as a rest stop and supply depot. England and mainland Europe are visited more from the East by flocks of birds from Scandinavia and Russia.
Literally just as the cold winds arrived from the north and west, along with them came the first flocks of Greenland White-Fronted Geese, borne along from their rest stop in Iceland. After 18 hours solid flying, they arrived first in small numbers, then in their dozens, then by the hundred and now we have thousands on our fields.
The wet windy weather of mid October rather stalled the goose migration for a few days. No significant numbers turned up on most days since the count of 500 or so on October 16th. But new flocks were heard coming in at 11pm on the night of the 22nd. These birds had just completed the flight from Iceland. Flocks seen flying into the Slob in the evenings are migrants at the end of their journey. The geese already present more usually fly over from their roosts on the Raven sandbars in the early morning.
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.
Other birds counted on 24th October were 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