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Wicklow wildlife

By damian, Tuesday, 28th January 2014 | 0 comments
Filed under: See & do Wicklow.

Crane returns to Co Wicklow East Coast Nature Reserve in Newcastle is a well known destination for birdwatchers in Ireland, who travel from far and wide to see its winter flocks of ducks, geese and waders.

But in more recent months, these regular winter arrivals have been joined by a more exotic (and much larger) blow-in from the continent, one that was once a common sight in Ireland in times gone by – a crane.

Cranes became extinct on these shores by the 1700s, wiped out by hunting and habitat destruction. But in more recent times, they have started to make the occasional foray onto Irish soil, with one particular individual taking up residence in the stretch between Newcastle and Kilcoole. The bird was first recorded around the tail end of last year (November 23) with the most recent sighting taking place last week. Since its arrival, wildlife enthusiasts from across Wicklow and beyond have flocked to the area hoping to get a glimpse. 'They're a really exceptional sight and absolutely lovely bird,' says Niall Hatch of the Wicklow branch of Birdwatch Ireland. 'Certainly if people were to see it, it's the biggest bird they'll ever see in Ireland – it's enormous.'

Niall believes that this bird may have been heading to its wintering grounds in southern Europe and Africa before deciding to take a detour to soak up the sights of the Garden County. 'It may well be that our bird is a Swedish bird that was migrating down to southern Spain, Portugal and Africa for the winter,' he claims. 'But they tend to wander quite widely and in the last few years we've seen an increase in winter records [of cranes] in Ireland.'

'The grey heron – which is a very common wildlife bird on wetlands in Wicklow – is known colloquially by a lot of people as a crane, because when cranes became extinct centuries ago that name was transferred,' Niall explains. 'So although a grey heron is a very tall bird, it's dwarfed by a real crane.'

And although he would like to see the crane emulate previous absentees such as the buzzard – which re-colonised Ireland of its own accord – Niall remains hesitant about the crane's hopes of re-establishing itself. 'It would certainly be lovely if they did,' he enthuses. Article credits Wicklow People wildlife

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