Farmer Billy has created his own swan lake – complete with a friendly croc!

April 16th, 2021 5:50 PM

By Jackie Keogh

Of the three swans in this recently uncovered lake in Schull, one is an imposter. Can you tell which one it is?

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A BEEF farmer with a love for nature reclaimed a lake in Schull and attracted lots of wildlife using rather unusual methods.

Billy O’Regan of Castlepoint, Schull, said he is aware that people might wonder why he would engage a contractor to unearth a lake, but he explained that it had become an eyesore.

He admits that neighbouring farmers may have looked askance at his decision to position plastic ducks on the lake, and god only knows what people thought when he handed over €29.57 for a plastic swan he saw at Deelish Garden Centre.

But – it worked! Wild ducks moved in two years ago – a full year after digger driver Pauric Whelton was engaged to remove the sods that had all but covered the lake.

And within a day of putting the plastic swan on the lake at Leamcon on Wednesday, March 24th, a couple of swans arrived the following morning.

Billy said his neighbour alerted him to the fact by sending him a photograph of the three swans and asking him to guess which one was the imposter.

Uncovering the lake is just one of the ways that Billy has shown his appreciation of nature.

He also cares for his hedgerows, has a couple of beehives on his land, and is very proud of his orchard.

There is one aspect, however, where Billy gleefully admits he took liberties, and that was when he added the head of a crocodile.

He said he did it purely for the amusement of the many children who stand at a safe distance on the roadway to watch what is happening at the lake.

Billy even utilised an old bog oak that they found in the lake by making it a feature. Young Alder trees have been planted, and lots of bulrushes, too, so in time the lake should mature nicely.

Billy and his wife, Denise, are clearly pleased with the results and the habitat it is creating for wildlife.

‘We’ve got swallows, lots of swallows, here each year,’ said Billy. ‘They are a delight to watch, as are the wild ducks who are there constantly.’

The lake measures about 20m by 50m.

It was originally dug in the 1800s at the behest of William Hull, a landlord, who quickly shelved his plan to turn five or six townlands into an island.

The 57-year-old Schull farmer said they were raised on stories about the fenced-off lake being bottomless, but today he can confirm it is just 3ft deep. And now resourceful Billy has one more trick up his sleeve.

He was actually buying pumpkin seeds when he saw the swan at Deelish, and plans to grow 60 pumpkins so that local children can harvest them in time for this year’s Hallowe’en.

Entire movies have been made out of less!

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