Michael Hackett who worked for over 40 years in Fisheries covering the Lough Oughter area lakes said he never came across a black swan and that it has possibly escaped from a private collection. Photo: Lorraine Teevan

Black Swan brightens up Town Lough

Thomas Lyons

Walkers in the area around Town Lough, Killeshandra have been treated to the spectacular sight of a black swan in full flight around the picturesque lake. The visitor has made quite an impression as he contrasts starkly with the native mute swans that are a fixture on the lake.

A trawl of the internet shows that this is not an unique visit of the bird to Cavan. Sightings have previously been recorded in Mullagh, Lough Gowna as well as Lough Oughtar itself.

Niall Hatch of BirdWatch explained to the Celt that rather than a genetic anomaly this is an antipodean visitor.

“They are native to Australia, but they are widely kept in captivity in wildfowl collections. Occasionally they escape. Being big, very obvious and accustomed to people they tend to go to places where people see them.”

Niall says the sighting of the striking bird is still unusual.

“They are very 'out of the ordinary' and interesting to see, but they are not a naturally occurring bird. There is no way it could have flown up from the southern hemisphere, the only way they could get there is by escaping from captivity.”


The BirdWatch Ireland Public Relations officer says the Killeshandra visitor could have come from anywhere. “There have been a pair in Donegal who have been there for almost 10 years, they have actually bred there. There is another pair in Bray harbour, one of them went missing, so it could have made its way to Cavan, or it could be freshly escaped from somewhere else.”

The visitor is being made at home on the Town Lough: “When you see a group of mute swans, the normal white Irish swans, they are all adolescent birds. They are not ready to breed yet. They are teenage swans. They tend to be accepting, sometimes you find domestic geese joining up with these swan flocks. The black swans are genetically hard-wired to seek out other waterbirds to flock with, so if they can't find other black swans they go for the next best option, which is our mute swan.”