Intensive farming and conservation can co-exist successfully on farms today. A good example of this is seen in areas of Wexford, Donegal, Sligo and lesser extent the midlands where large numbers of over-wintering geese and wildfowl arrive each year. From early October through to the middle of April, the North and South Wexford Slobs and the Harbour are home to thousands of ducks, geese, swans and waders making this a site of major international importance for wildfowl and waders. In addition, during spring and autumn, large numbers of birds on migration stop to feed in these rich areas.
Greenland White-fronted Geese have wintered in large numbers in Co. Wexford only since the 1940s. Also known as the Bog Goose, this species favours soft well-watered ground for feeding and as Irish bogs were increasingly drained and harvested in the early years of the 20th century, the geese had to look around for an alternative wintering ground. They found the Slobs and from the 1940s, flocked here in increasing numbers until The Slobs became, along with Islay in Scotland, one of the White-front’s two wintering strongholds, each attracting thousands of geese. The other prominent area for over-wintering geese is in the Lough Swilly area in Co. Donegal.
The Agri-environment plans take into account the provision of enough feed for over wintering geese swans and wildfowl and to provide sufficient high protein grass in spring for pre migratory weight gain for the geese flocks.