We were lucky to see a fair number of Bewick’s Swans at WWT Slimbridge the other day. These winter visitors migrate thousands of miles from their breeding grounds in the Russian tundra. Numbers have declined by half since 1995, and WWT is playing a leading role in trying to ensure their conservation – see Bewick’s Swans. It is well worth visiting Slimbridge to hear the story of these graceful birds.
Bewick’s are noticeably smaller than both the Whooper Swans we see at WWT Martin Mere and the Mute Swans that are resident all over the UK (including a fair population at Slimbridge).
Remarkably the ‘face’ of each of these swans is unique and can be perceived as different by the staff at Slimbridge. Each has been given a name, and their individual arrival is looked forward to every autumn.
Heartbreakingly, quite a large proportion of the birds have some lead shot in their bodies. This is clearly one of the reasons for the falling population.
Supporting organisations such as WWT is perhaps now the only way to ensure that birds such as Bewick’s are not driven to extinction.