The waterfowl collection at Castle Espie is home to the largest collection of ducks, geese and swans in Ireland.
WWT is undertaking conservation work for many of the birds you will see in the collection which wouldn't be possible without the support of our members.
The red-breasted goose has suffered a staggering 56% population decline in the last 10 years. The red-breasted goose is globally threatened, and classified as ‘Endangered’. It breeds in Arctic Russia and migrates south and then west to winter around the Black Sea, particularly in Bulgaria, Romania and the Ukraine.
WWT is the lead organisation for the red-breasted goose International Working Group to help protect the future of this species. This includes monitoring the birds at their wintering grounds and the threats they face as well as fitting 25 satellite transmitters to the geese in order to track their movements.
The Hawaiian goose represents WWT's greatest conservation success story by breeding the birds in captivity and releasing them in the wild, a project supported by WWT members.
An estimated 25,000 Nene’s used to inhabit the Hawaiian islands, but following the arrival of Europeans in 1778 their numbers immediately began to decline. By 1907, the Nene was recognised as a protected species, but this seemed too little too late and only 20 or 30 birds survived by 1949. A major re-introduction programme was launched which saw Sir Peter Scott bring over two of the only remaining Nene’s in the world from Hawaii, then WWT went on to release more than 200 of them back to the wild over the years helping to save the Nene from extinction.
The Greenland white-fronted goose is now one of the rarest geese that visit the UK.
The geese migrate between Scotland and Greenland via Iceland - including an incredible flight up and over the 1.5 mile high ice cap. Surveys by the Greenland White-fronted Goose Study Group have shown that numbers have declined sharply in recent years.
Numbers of Greenland white-fronted geese wintering around Loch Ken on the Solway Firth in Scotland, near WWT’s Caerlaverock Wetland Centre, have dwindled from some 400 to just 175 last winter. The population is clearly declining rapidly, and the local distribution of birds at sites such as Loch Ken is also changing. WWT, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), the National Trust for Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and the RSPB have got together to look at developing a management plan for the areas used by the geese around Loch Ken and Threave in Scotland.