Rare black swan draws the crowds in the Claddagh

The black swan at the Claddagh (Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy).

While young Galwegians are heading in their droves to Australia and New Zealand, Galway has had one antipodean arrival that has rather turned heads.

A Black Swan has joined the flock of Mute Swans in the Claddagh. Thought to be a mature female of four years or more, she was first spotted at the slipway opposite Claddagh Hall on Sunday.

Over the past few years, single and pairs of Black Swans have been seen in Wicklow, Clare and Limerick, but this is the first time one has arrived in Galway, according to Mary Joyce Glynn of Galway & Claddagh Swan Rescue.

“She’s quite friendly. Well able to look after herself. For the first day or two there was a lot of picking and ruffling of feathers from the others because she’s so different. But she’s seen them off and settled in well now all the excitement is over. She seems quite happy. She’s feeding which is good. She’s used to people, which is not great. She’s coming over to them expecting some food and I’d prefer not to see that.”

There is no danger of interbreeding with the native population as Black Swans only mate with one of their own. From experience elsewhere, they tend to stay a couple of weeks or months and then fly off to the next breeding ground.

“She’s most likely escaped from someone’s exotic collection. Quite a lot are free in the countryside in England having escaped or been allowed to escape. Dublin Zoo and Fota Island have them, but they don’t appear to be missing any,” reveals Mary.
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