Monday 14 October 2019

Festival fireworks display not good for the goose

The annual fireworks display
The annual fireworks display

Pádraig Byrne

The annual fireworks display to launch the Opera Festival on the quay in Wexford has been a source of great entertainment for generations across the county, but it seems that not everyone is happy with the spectacle.

A paper published in 'Irish Birds' showed that the huge bangs from the fireworks appear to unsettle the geese, sending them frantically flying out over the Irish Sea.

In September 2017, geese were fitted with GPS neck-collars in Greenland. Five 'wired' ones made the journey to Wexford, where their movements were monitored. On November 5 of that year, having been rescheduled, the annual fireworks display took off with gusto with a series of the usual colourful explosions on the quayfront.

While in the two nights preceding the fireworks, none of the geese stirred from their sleeping positions at Wexford Wildfowl Reserve, once the fireworks were launched, all five took wing and flew out over the Irish Sea. Maximum distances travelled ranged from 750m to 1.75km. The birds' agitation was short-lived, however, and they returned to the roosting banks

'It seems likely that the entire roost of Greenland white-fronted geese were displaced into the air,' the author said.

One of the five collared geese made the return to Wexford for a second fireworks display, on October 19 of last year. This goose flew eastwards when the ruckus commenced on this occasion, reaching a point 1.3km from the roost. None of the other marked birds were at the reserve on that date.

In concluding the authors confirmed the need to 'better understand the effects of increasing sources of light and noise pollution on the fauna of protected areas'.

Wexford People

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