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Wild Swans

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swans and horses at river illustrating an article about wild Irish SwansThe wild swans you see with the horses in the above picture have been coming to the river in Ballyyahoo to nest for years.

However there have been problems.

We have very heavy rain, strong winds and storms in Ballyyahoo, much like the rest of the Wild Atlantic Way.

This caused some terrible problems for the wild swans.


You see, each year they built a nest in the same place.

Unfortunately the place they chose was very close to the river bank.

Disaster struck when  heavy rains came. The river rose and the nest and eggs were washed away.

Ballyyahooians love wild swans.

In fact they love all animals and birds (except squawk-birds) and they were desperate to solve this problem.

They really wanted the poor sad swan to be able to hatch her eggs and see her baby swans (cygnets) emerge and grow.

It was so sad seeing the nest get swept down the river year after year.

They had tried really hard to solve the problem by reinforcing the banks.

But, they never managed to stop the nest being washed away until Maggie-many-cats had her great idea.
image of fallen tree in woodlands illustrating children’s nature story page about wild swansMaggie was out walking in the Witchy woods looking out for abandoned cats, when she sat down on a rock for a little rest.

She was leaning back against a tree with her tired feet resting on a tree stump so she could admire the beautiful colours in the trees when suddenly she had the most amazing idea.

The people of Ballyyahoo should build a raft for the swans to make a nest on.

Maggie-many-cats practically ran all the way to old Paddy Plant’s house and told him her big idea.

Paddy said her idea was ‘only deadly’ and the two of them got down to work right away.

Paddy had some wood in his shed that he had been saving to make a new donkey shelter but he decided he would use that wood right away.

He could always get more wood for his donkey shelter the next day.

He knew Daffo the donkey wouldn’t mind, as long as he got plenty of carrots.

raft for swans nest illustrating children’s nature story page about wild swansIt didn’t take too much work to make the raft and they filled up old barrels with sand to make anchors.

Maggie-many-cats and Paddy Plant watched the raft every day waiting for the swans to come and build their nest.

Just as they were starting to think that the swans were never coming back to Ballyyahoo there was a swoop of white in the sky.

The swans had arrived. They wasted no time as they began to build their nest on the raft.


Swans can hatch up to ten eggs at one time and it takes the female about two to three weeks.

They hatch after about six weeks, but not all of them survive, which is probably why they lay so many.

By the way if you are wondering how to tell the difference – the female swan is smaller than the male.

The Ballyyahoo swans had three cygnets and you can see them below, enjoying themselves in the river while their parents keep an ever watchful eye on them.

Cygnets have plenty of predators and the most common ones in Ballyyahoo are larger birds like magpies, crows and even the Ballyyahoo herons.

They can also be preyed on by foxes and mink.


While they were living in the river they ate pond weed, tadpoles and insects.

Generally cygnets stay with their parents for about six months and then they go and search for a new flock of swans to join.

The Ballyyahoo cygnets were no different and flew away one by one.

Soon after they left, their parents flew away as well.

We miss the little family of wild swans in Ballyyahoo but we are pretty sure they will come back next year.

Did you know that wild swans can sleep standing up on one leg? If you want to learn more about wild swans you can find out more at bird watch Ireland.










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