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Migrating swans electrocuted by power lines in Co Donegal

Birdwatch Ireland worried more whooper swans, a protected species, will be killed at site

Whooper swans arrive in Ireland from Iceland during the autumn and winter

Fifteen swans have been found dead in Co Donegal after flying into power lines, BirdWatch Ireland has reported.

Many of the deceased whooper swans – a protected migratory species that arrives in Ireland from Iceland during the winter – were juveniles.

The carcasses were discovered underneath electricity lines close to the village of Carrigans in the northeast of Co Donegal, close to the Border. About 700 whooper swans were counted in a field immediately adjacent to the site on Friday.

“BirdWatch Ireland is very worried that whooper swans will continue to be electrocuted at this site in the days and weeks to come unless urgent action is taken,” the organisation said.

‘Game guard discs’

The ESB said it had put a plan in place to prevent further deaths. It said network crews will attach additional “game guard discs” which are used to warn off birds from the hitting the lines. Local residents will be briefed.

However, BirdWatch Ireland had said it was concerned these “deflectors” were not working properly.

“Indeed, several of these deflector devices have been knocked off the wires due to the swan collisions, further reducing [their] visibility.”

“Ireland hosts internationally important numbers of whooper swans each autumn and winter, and it has a special responsibility to conserve and protect them,” said Niall Hatch of BirdWatch Ireland. “We sincerely hope that measures can be put in place to prevent further swan deaths as soon as possible.”

The organisation said some of the birds had been recently killed, while others showed varying levels of decomposition, indicating that they had died at different times.

Whooper swans are very large birds with pure white plumage, long necks and smooth, sloping beaks which are yellow and black in colour.