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Mass migration underway!

Over the weekend, the count at Slimbridge dropped from 120 swans to just 56 recorded today, with many making the most of the clear skies and south-westerly winds on Saturday evening to start their spring migration.

Swans on migration over Holland (J. Jorritsma)

The Bewick’s have been flooding out of the country with 1,700 having left the Ouse Washes in Norfolk since 6 January, leaving just 264 there on Tuesday (WeBS). Meanwhile, swan spotters across Europe are being treated to large flocks of swans overhead, as they are seen making their way to arctic Russia.

I could hear the swans before I saw them when walking to the hide at Slimbridge this morning. Nearing departure, their ways of communicating with each other appear to change. Gone are the raucous territorial battles and shouts for food. Instead, there seems to be more unity and gentle murmering chatter as they strengthen the social bonds that are needed to maintain the loyal partnerships between mates and between parents and youngsters.



  • Laurencearnold

    bon voyage! thank you, Bewick’s for a great sight when i visited Slimbridge. safe travels and see you next year.

    Julia, this must be quite a sad time for you. Thank you for all the updates and info. It fellt like visiting friends when i saw the swans on my trip to Slimbridge.

  • Mo

    Let’s hope that these wonderful noble birds all get to their breeding grounds without incident.
    I heard today that all the Bewick’s have now left Welney,.
    have a good holiday Julia – will see you in the Spring.