‘Swanfall’ at Slimbridge marks start of winter

Bewick's swansImage copyright WWT
Image caption Up to 200 Bewick’s swans are expected at the nature reserve over the winter

More than 70 swans have arrived at a nature reserve in the past few days, in a phenomenon known as a “swanfall”.

The Bewick’s swans flew into the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) at Slimbridge, on the final leg of their annual migration from Arctic Russia.

Every year the birds fly about 4,000 km (2,500 miles) to seek out comparatively warmer weather for the winter.

Bewick’s swans have unique yellow and black beak patterns so experts can identify individual returning birds.

WWT swan researcher Steve Heaven said the swanfall, which traditionally heralds the beginning of winter, was a “fantastic spectacle”.

“We now have over 70 here, with more arriving each day.”

‘Keeping fingers crossed’

He said each new arrival was recorded and birds visiting for the first time were given names.

“We are still on the lookout for some of our regulars, including Croupier, who has been a favourite of visitors here at Slimbridge for almost three decades,” he said.

“We’re anxiously keeping our fingers crossed that he might still arrive, but in the meantime, we’re delighted to see his son, Croupie, back on the pond, along with his mate, Wheel.”

Up to 200 Bewick’s swans in total are expected at the Gloucestershire nature reserve over the winter, before flying back to Russia in the spring.

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