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Late arrivals touchdown at Slimbridge to escape harsh weather

Rhune (left) and Roscoff arrived late this season. Photo by Colin Butters

A swan couple has surprised staff at a wildlife reserve in Gloucestershire by arriving at their usual winter migration spot weeks late.

Bewick’s swans Roscoff and Rhune were last sighted in March last year in Germany on their spring migration.

When they failed to arrive at Slimbridge Wetland Centre towards the end of last year, experts there thought they probably decided to winter closer to their summer home in Arctic Russia because of the unseasonably mild weather.

Now it seems the recent cold snap persuaded them to complete their migration further west. A further eight swans also arrived this week and have been making themselves at home on the icy Rushy Lake.

Julia Newth, said: “The pair are likely to have reached the Netherlands or Germany before stopping early in the mild weather as they found they didn’t need to travel so far for food.

“The unusually harsh weather conditions seen on the continent this week will have pushed them that little bit further and the memory of Slimbridge as a safe place with daily supplies of grain provided will have undoubtedly spurred them on!”

“We first welcomed Roscoff here 10 years ago and she is very regular, normally arriving ahead of Christmas.

“They have had to jostle for territory with the swans that have been here for some weeks but they seem to have settled in well.

“I’m looking forward to pointing her out to visitors when I do the swan bill sketching sessions on Saturday for the Festival of Birds.”

There are now 189 swans on the Rushy Lake at Slimbridge.

This weekend (February 4 and 5) the swans will feature in the programme at a swan bill sketching session and swan focus on the Saturday and during the commentated Wild Bird Feeds happening on both days.
All the events at the Festival are included in the normal cost of admission.

The Bewick’s can be recognised by their unique yellow and black bill patterns. This allows experts at Slimbridge to identify them and record their data.