Movements of Whooper Swans Cygnus cygnus neckbanded in Iceland

Arnthor Gardarsson


Movements of Whooper Swans neckbanded at two moulting sites in east Iceland and one in west Iceland are described. In the first year 65% were reported, 62% resighted and 4% recovered. After four years, 73% had been reported, 69% resighted and 10% recovered. Nearly all neck bands disappeared in this period. In autumn the birds migrated on a broad front, with a mean direction close to 140°, W-Iceland birds mainly to Ireland and W-Scotland, E-Iceland birds largely to Scotland, but also N-lreland and S-Scandinavia. The mean distance was about 1,100 km for E-Iceland birds and about 1,400 km for W-Iceland birds. In early winter 19% of E-Iceland, but no W-Iceland swans, were found in the easternmost parts of the range (Shetland and S-Scandinavia). In December-January about half the reported swans moved over 100 km, mainly south. Winter site fidelity varied greatly, 45 % were found within 100 km of the previous winter, 55% were further away (up to 985 km). Within Iceland only 9% of E and W birds were reported in the opposite half of the country. About 600 E-Iceland Whooper Swans may winter on the continent of Europe and some thousands wintering in Britain may originate from the continent.

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