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Bewick’s arrive at Slimbridge!

The first four Bewick’s swans flew into Slimbridge this morning! They touched down briefly on Swan Lake at 7.30am before heading off for a reconnaissance of the reserve.

Three of the swans this morning (J. Lees)

Dario, famed as a routinely early bird, beat the crowds again to arrive first with another adult and two yearlings! Dario has been the first to arrive in four of the past six winters, and, as a Slimbridge regular, will have guided the other birds.

He is now 12 years old and has been wintering at the reserve since 1999, when he first arrived as a cygnet with parents Raptor and Goodall.

I will be watching the group’s social dynamics very closely over the next few days to see whether Dario has brought with him a mate or just an acquaintance! Key signs of partnership to look out for include courtship routines and proximity to one another.

As I write, all four are enjoying their first meal on the lake, which is well earned after completing 3,000km of flying!

The swans made the most of a break in the wild weather this morning to push on with their migration on an easterly breeze and arrive at the centre on time: in recent years, the swans have mostly arrived around 21 October so we were expecting their imminent arrival!

Meanwhile, some of our ringed birds have been spotted in Eastern Europe heading this way! On Saturday, Pogues (green ring AGA) was spotted in Pampali, Latvia, by Julius Morkunas and his family, along with several swans that were ringed by a Polish team led by Maria Wieloch in Russia this summer.

Pogues spent much of last winter with us but there had been no news of her since her departure from Slimbridge in March. We’re very happy that she is looking well and making good progress!