Whooper swans wreaking havoc in Burt

Swans swimming on Inch Lake yesterday. (1210PG80)
Swans swimming on Inch Lake yesterday. (1210PG80)

Migrating whooper swans are wreaking havoc with overhead cables in Burt causing power-cuts in the townlands around Inch Lake.

Migrating whooper swans are wreaking havoc with overhead cables in Burt causing power-cuts in the townlands around Inch Lake.

Homes in Carrowen, Mullaney and Ballymoney were without electricity for an hour on Sunday evening and from midnight until lunchtime on Tuesday.

Carrowen pensioner Mrs Margaret Burke said the swan-related power cuts have been going on for years.

She said: “People living in this area are fed up with the constant power cuts. They have been going on all winter, every winter for years. It has got to the stage were we do not know if we are going to have heat or light when we get up in the morning.

“My husband and I are pensioners and these constant power cuts are making our lives unbearable. During a power-cut we cannot prepare food. We cannot even light a fire because the pump to the back boiler runs on electricity. It seems as if the price of electricity is increasing all the time, yet we are getting a very poor service.”

In recent days, hundreds of whooper swans, also known as cygnus cygnus or eala ghlrach, have migrated back to Burt from Iceland. Their distinctive bugling or honking calls have filled the air.

The fields around Burt, with their proximity to Inch Lake, provide the ideal diet for the long-distance travellers. They prefer aquatic vegetation but will graze on pasture grass, split grain and potatoes.

The Journal has been unable to get clarification regarding the Burt power-cuts from ESB, the area’s electricity provider.

In spite of repeated requests, ESB’s communications department was unable to identify what townlands had been affected. It also refused to explain why repair work on the fault began at 8.30 am, eight hours after the power went off.

Mrs Margaret Burke said she would like to know if the ESB has any way of preventing the whooper swans flying into overhead power-lines.

She said: “I would also like to know if ESB is going to compensate the families who have now been without power twice in one week in Burt.”

Whooper swans are monitored by the Irish Wetland Bird Survey, which carries out a special swan census every five years.