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Wild Harris

Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan 2 CReddick.jpg(Photo: Cliff Reddick)

Across most of Scotland, Mute Swans are the most common species of swan but on Harris Whooper Swans are the only swans you are likely to see.  Uist has a large population of Mute Swans but they are not found on Harris.

Whooper swans are migratory and are most commonly seen during their spring and autumn migration when they can be seen flying over on their way to or from their breeding grounds in Iceland.  Groups of migrating swans often stop over on the larger lochs to rest and feed before moving on. 

Whooper Swan 3 CReddick.jpg(Photo: Cliff Reddick)

When feeding, they spend much of their time upside down, reaching for plants growing at the bottom of lochs with their long necks and with only their tails showing above the water.  Loch Lacasadail, Loch Bhoisimid and the lochs to the north of Leverburgh  (Loch na Moracha and Loch Steiseabhat) are good places to look out for visiting Whooper Swans.  A few stay for the winter but most winter further south.  Occasionally a few swans will also stay on Harris for the summer and on Lewis they have been recorded breeding on a few occasions.

Families of whooper swans will often stay together during their migration and during the autumn it is often possible to pick out the pure white adults from the slightly greyer young of the year.