Early Swan gets the worm?16 Nov 2015
A Bewick’s Swan at Slimbridge elicited considerable media attention in October as it was the earliest arrival of that species at the WWT reserve. It preceded the previous record of two on 12 October 1980 by one day. Similar early arrivals were noted at other wintering sites, including continental Europe.
The movements of Bewick’s Swans coincided with a spell of unseasonably cool weather in northern and eastern Europe, likely forcing the swans to move on from migration stop-over sites that became frozen. The prevailing easterly winds at the time will also have helped the swans reach their wintering sites earlier than usual.
Bewick’s Swans are currently on the Amber list of Birds of Conservation Concern in the UK due to an ongoing decline in the wintering population. In Ireland, the species has been red- listed; fewer than 30 birds were counted on last year’s swan census.
One bird, twelve journeys, 60 000 miles and invaluable scientific data: PJ the Cuckoo has left an incredible legacy.