Following the return to spring like temperatures, Swan Lake has been relatively calm and tranquil (well, as calm and tranquil as you can get with 175 swans gliding around!), with very few comings and goings. The feeds have been well attended and the fields are being readily grazed as the swans make the most of the last few weeks here at Slimbridge before embarking on their long migration back to Russia next month. Latest news from the continent suggests that the great migration has already started with some birds leaving the Netherlands for Germany (W. Tijsen). On-going analysis indicates an earlier departure from the Netherlands in recent years, perhaps attributable to the milder winters seen with climate change (J. Van Gils).
Last week, Dutch ornithologists Wim Tijsen and Henk Schobben came over for their annual ‘swan-holiday’ on the Ouse Washes. Many days were patiently spent peering down the telescope during which they spotted 38 different leg rings. Among the marked individuals was a swan ringed in 2009 in Norfolk by Tony Martin (705) that Wim had clocked just a few days before in Holland, and which had flown to Britain in the brief cold snap!
Wim, Henk, the Welney team and RSPB counted only 1,918 birds across the Ouse Washes last Tuesday, indicating that few new birds had arrived in Britain in recent weeks. It seems as though they may be thinking of heading in the other direction, so now is the time to make the most of the Bewick’s whilst they are still with us…….