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First super whooper completes migration in ‘Supersonic’ time

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A satellite-tracked Super Whooper swan has lived up to his name and completed the migration between Iceland and Scotland, flying 800km non-stop over the ocean in just 14 hours. The aptly named Supersonic Bill was just three hours short of the shortest ever recorded journey time by a whooper swan.

Supersonic Bill arrived at Caerlaverock on Monday, with mate C9U, just in time for the morning feed. The satellite data received today not only reveals the very quick journey, but also shows that he seemed to accelerate towards the end of his journey to Caerlaverock, almost as if he knew when the morning feed was due and wanted to make it in time. Caerlaverock Reserve Warden Richard Smith said: “We know that Supersonic Bill was travelling at 114kph past Auchencairn Bay on the Solway at 8am on Monday. He covered the final 25km in just 15 minutes before flying onto the whooper pond here at Caerlaverock to be greeted by me with a barrow of grain! Not surprisingly he looked a bit tired, but otherwise not bad given that he was in Iceland only the day before!”

The unseasonably mild conditions in mid to late October saw a lull in swan migration following the arrival on 7 and 8 October of Baldur, a WWT Welney bird, and K9H, a Caerlaverock bird to Britain after spending the summer in Iceland. Baldur has since shed his satellite transmitter, but we are confident he will soon turn up at Welney where we will be able to identify him by his leg ring. But as well as Supersonic Bill and his mate, today’s satellite data download shows us that three more of our 50 Super Whoopers have taken advantage of the colder snap since the weekend. Y6K, a Welney visitor, and Y5T (a yearling) – both tagged in Iceland in August, completed their migration to Ireland at the weekend, and Sigrunn – a WWT Martin Mere regular – arrived in Northern Ireland on 4 November.