Could we be heading for the longest winter in 50 years? Ask the swans...

bewick swans
There are fears that Ireland could be heading for a very long winter after the early arrival of migrating swans from Siberia. A 300-strong flock of Bewick swans fly 2,500 miles from Siberia to a wildlife reserve in the UK each year and their arrival is used as a sign to say that winter has arrived. However it's the earliest arrival of the birds since 1963 which has prompted fears that western Europe is in store for a long, harsh winter. Bewick swans are red-listed in Ireland due to a severe decline in the number of the birds wintering in Ireland. Expert Julia Newth said: "Apparently there's a Russian saying that 'the swan brings snow on its bill', because they tend to move just ahead of the cold weather." El Niño is also underway in the tropical Pacific, which has further fuelled speculation that Europe is in for a longer and colder winter than usual. Meanwhile, in the short term, Met Eireann are expecting ground frost in places throughout this week as our spell of settled weather continues. It should be dry until the weekend but they are warning of fog and frost developing overnight. A polar continental air mass will make it feel very chilly all week.

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