WWT Slimbridge is guaranteed to turn white every winter – not with snow, but with the ivory coloured feathers of the famed Bewick’s swan.
The bird so iconic to Slimbridge has kept staff and volunteers on the edge of their seats; the late autumn weather delaying their migration. Not since 1967 has the species been so late in reaching the Gloucestershire site, when a swan named Jammy arrived on 9 November.
This year’s first swan is a yearling who hasn’t yet been named but most likely visited the reserve with its parents for the first time in 2016.
The arrival of the swan on the Rushy Pen marks the start of a celebrated period for the famous nature reserve, which hosts around 30,000 migratory birds every winter.
The Bewick’s swans are renowned for navigating 4500km from the Russian arctic to Slimbridge each year.
WWT Slimbridge’s resident swan expert Julia Newth says:
“Bewick’s swans are particularly special to WWT as Sir Peter Scott himself dedicated much of his time to studying the bird.
“Watching Swan Lake fill with these remarkable swans is a sight to behold and the arrival of our first Bewick’s swans is the start of an exciting time ahead.”
The plight of the Bewick’s swan, which has been mysteriously declining in number, was highlighted last year by WWT’s Sacha Dench, who followed their epic migratory route from the tundra to Gloucestershire on a paramotor.
Swan Lake at Slimbridge is perfectly maintained so that the birds have a comfortable place to recover from their long and arduous trip. Our wardens feed them three times a day and ensure that they are kept safe during their stay over the winter.
This incredibly important work is made possible by the generous donations from the players of People’s Postcode Lottery, whose contributions allow us to take good care of these marvellous animals.
You can experience the beauty and sounds of hundreds of beautiful wild birds first hand at one of our fabulous Floodlit Swan Suppers.
Our guests are invited to settle into the warm Peng Observatory with a hot mulled wine or cider and watch these wild swans, geese and ducks as they are fed by our warden who will describe the impressive journey each species makes to reach Slimbridge year after year.
Following the bird feeding spectacle, a sumptuous two course meal is served in our Kingfisher Kitchen. A group discount is available, making our Floodlit Swan Suppers perfect for celebrating Christmas with work colleagues, family and friends. Go online for more information and to reserve your space.