Whooper Swans courtesy of David Cookson.
This bird is being tracked by satellite technology and was recently found to be heading towards the cloud of ash from the volcano Eyjafjallajokull. Y6K was approaching Iceland from the southeast which is one of the landfall areas for swans arriving in the country and unfortunately is in line with the fallout from the volcano. There is also concern amongst the experts/researchers for numbers of goose species migrating to - and through - Iceland at this time. Previous eruptions have caused bird deaths and major problems for farmers and as a result of this present eruption there is dense ash and total darkness to the southeast of the volcano near an area dubbed 'Whooper Airport' and so called because most of the birds land here after their migration. The project relating to the tracking of these birds aims to determine the migration routes the swans take, the heights and speeds at which they fly, and the effects of weather conditions on their flight patterns.
But now the good news....
Maybe the airlines are now beginning to get back to some sort of normality but we have just witnessed an amazing grounding of air flights but Whooper Swan Y6K has safely negotiated the outfall from this volcanic eruption and made it to Iceland....ALLELUIA!!
It took Y6K 4.5 days to cross from the Outer Hebrides to Iceland due to head winds, but he finally came over east Iceland at mid-day on 17 April and spent the next 24 hours resting in fields near Hofn. But despite this wonderful news about this bird there remains concern for the welfare of Icelandic breeding populations of geese and swans over the coming months particularly if this volcano continues to erupt and the added concern of whether or not Katia blows.
Wildfowl and Icelandic volcano's have lived side by side for millions of years but you do have to wonder if the people of a modern and complex world of the 21st century are perhaps a little more fragile than they are.