Whooper Swans tracked from Germany to Siberia and back

Originally posted on eco-restore.net:

IMG_4792 Axel SchonertTwo years ago we started a small project to study the fascinating migrations of the whooper swan, with the help of satellite transmitters. Nico Stenschke, the man behind the receiver, sent us a short note to report on progress this winter. And wow, look at these Whoopers!

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Bewick’s swans migration to England

This video is called SlowMotion: Bewick’s Swans Fly [with some geese].

From Wildlife Extra:

Bewick’s swans fly from Eastern Europe to Gloucestershire in great numbers

Since Christmas a great number of wild Bewick’s swans have been arriving at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust centre at Slimbridge in Gloucestershire as cold weather has moved in from Eastern Europe.

Eighty one swans made the final leg of their annual migration from arctic Russia during the recent cold clear nights, doubling the size of the Slimbridge roost.

The arrival of lots of swans in this way – dubbed a ‘swanfall’ – generally coincides with the first cold snap of winter, as the birds seek ice-free wetlands to feed and roost.

The swanfall is a welcome surprise after mild weather allowed the birds to remain as far east as Estonia earlier this month.

WWT Wildlife Health Research Officer, Julia Newth, helps conserve the Bewick’s swans, which have been in decline since the 1990s.

“The arrival of lots of Bewick’s swans is a traditional harbinger of cold weather and it feels truly wintry here at WWT Slimbridge with crisp, clear days and hundreds of swans crowding onto the lake at dusk,” she says. “It has been a fantastic spectacle for everyone who’s visited over the Christmas break.

“Sadly, there’s a serious side and the number of Bewick’s swans in Europe has dropped by over a third, but we’re doing all we can to get to the bottom of the problem and everyone who visits is supporting the conservation of these beautiful wild birds.”

The Slimbridge Bewick’s swans are the subject of one of the most intensive wildlife studies in the world. Each individual swan can be identified by the unique pattern of yellow and black on its beak.

The study has been running continuously for 50 years and has recorded the life histories of nearly 10,000 swans during that time.

WWT has expanded its swan research over the decades and linked up with researchers throughout the migratory swans’ range in northern Europe and Russia.

Together they have managed to get international protection for a chain of wetlands along the way that are vital for the swans to feed and rest.

Despite protection for their wetland habitats, the swan population has gone into decline. WWT is currently raising money through its Hope for Swans appeal in order to deliver the Bewick’s Swan International Action Plan, which aims to stabilise the population.

For information on swans and where to see them, or to read Julia’s blog about the Slimbridge swans and her research, visit www.wwt.org.uk/swans.

Swan saved from frozen ditch

This is a video about a mute swan, stuck in a frozen ditch near Mastenbroek in the Netherlands this morning.

A passer-by had seen the bird was in trouble, and phoned the animal ambulance.

They were unable to free the animal. Then, the fire brigade was called, and succeeded.

The swan went along with the animal ambulance. After reconvalescence, it will be freed again.

Young swans feeding, under water video

This is a video, filmed mostly under water, of young mute swans feeding in the Netherlands.

Marjo Steffen made the video.

Mute swan feeding, video

This video shows a mute swan feeding on water fern.

The video was made near Griendtsveen (Limburg province).

Jos Vroegrijk made the video.

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Mute swan feeding, video

This is a video about a mute swan feeding in Lauwersmeer national park in the Netherlands.

Piet Zuidema made the video.

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Bewick’s swan cygnet loses its parents

This video from England is called WWT Slimbridge: Bewick’s swans feeding on maize in the frost.

From Wildlife Extra:

Bewick’s swans migrate but leave cygnet behind

February 2014: A Bewick’s swan cygnet appears to have abandoned by his parents at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire. Yesterday WWT researcher Julia Newth, who recognises the hundreds of swans in the flock by their individual face markings, saw that one family had acquired an additional youngster.

The lone cygnet has latched onto Slimbridge regulars Wooton and Stinchcombe and their four cygnets, but is spending much of its time calling in the hope of being reunited with its own parents.

Bewick’s swans migrate in large family groups and due to recent mild weather all but 10 of the Slimbridge flock have departed already.

Julia Newth said: “Occasionally, cygnets become separated from their parents during migration when there is perhaps bad weather, but it is rather more unusual to see such a separation before the journey has begun.

“We’re all waiting to see whether the parents return. If they don’t, and the cygnet leaves with its adopted family, we will call on our extensive network of swan researchers along the 2,500 mile journey to Russia to keep an eye out for them and check whether the lone cygnet manages to stay with them.”

Away from Slimbridge, where the swans are uniquely recorded by their facial markings, the swans are tracked by coded plastic rings on their legs. The lone cygnet has not been ringed but its adopted parents, Wooton and Stinchcombe, have white leg rings with the codes BAU and BAS.

Along the 2,500 mile migration between Slimbridge and Arctic Russia, the swans rely heavily on a chain of wetland sites for opportunities to rest and feed.

The Bewick’s swan study at Slimbridge celebrated its 50th anniversary earlier this month. Its findings have opened up the social structure of Bewick’s swans’ lives, revealing their lifelong pairing and strong family bonds. The longest-running dynasty is known as the ‘gambling’ dynasty, after a young swan was ringed and named Casino in 1971. Over the years that she returned to WWT Slimbridge she brought back 32 cygnets, who in turn have brought back cygnets of their own. This winter, three generations of the family have stayed at WWT Slimbridge, bringing their own respective partners and families, making them one of the most dominant and successful dynasties in the flock.

The study has also revealed the occasional anomaly, such as in 2010 when a regular pair, Saruni and Sarindi, returned with different partners. It was only the second instance of a swan ‘divorce’ in the entire study of more than 4,000 pairs.

For more information on swans visit www.wwt.org.uk/swans.

Numbers of the UK’s smallest and rarest swan have plummeted in the past two decades, according to new research. More than a third of Bewick’s swans, which winter in Europe, have disappeared since 1995, when numbers peaked at 29,000: here.

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