About me

Having undertaken a final year project on mate choice in Mallard for a BSc (Hons) degree at the University of Leicester, I joined the Wildfowl Trust (as it then was) back in 1977 as a Research Assistant to the Bewick’s Swan study. Apparently it was making a parachute jump, rather than the Mallard study, which was the key factor in my gaining the post! The work involved recording the presence/absence, associations and behaviour of individual swans wintering at Slimbridge, with observations made from Sir Peter Scott’s studio window. During summer months during the late 1970s I also studied the breeding behaviour of Black-headed Duck (an obligate parasitic breeder), and in the evenings volunteered with the Trust’s aviculture team. My PhD on the Bewick’s Swans’ migration phenology was awarded by Bristol University in 1988. More than 40 years on, I am now Research Fellow at WWT, have published numerous scientific papers, books/book chapters and reports, and disseminated research results more widely through presentations and numerous popular articles.


Throughout my time at WWT, I have been involved in studying the behaviour, ecology and dynamics of waterbirds, particularly migratory swans and geese, with a view to understanding factors affecting their population trends, distribution and feeding ecology. Given that migratory birds cross international boundaries, I have actively promoted international research programmes along migration routes, including developing the collaborative study of the Icelandic Whooper Swan population, and the Anglo-Russian study of Bewick’s Swan breeding biology. From 1994–2001, I was Chair of the Wetlands International/IUCN-SSC Swan Specialist Group, and reprised this role from 2014–present. I have also served inter alia on the Scottish Executive’s Goose Science Advisory Group (from 1999–2011), the NERC peer-review college (from 2008–2011) and am currently Coordinator of the Bewick’s Swan Expert Group responsible for the implementation of the AEWA Single Species Action Plan for the NW European Bewick’s Swan population. Since 2006 I have been Editor of WWT’s scientific journal Wildfowl. I have supervised 4 PhD, 3 MSc and several undergraduate research programmes, and been responsible for managing grant/contract work, including tracking swans in relation to offshore wind farms for COWRIE Ltd and for DECC.


Most of my research has involved handling and analysing large datasets, and reporting on the findings. I am therefore moderately skilled in using statistical packages and querying databases, albeit increasingly reliant on colleagues for the latest technology.

I have long experience of undertaking fieldwork in the UK, Iceland and arctic Russia, including catching swans for ringing, making behavioural observations and habitat assessment. This was useful not only for recording data at the time, but has provided valuable insight into the explanatory variables likely to be affecting the birds at different times of year.


For full list see my Google Scholar profile

Wood, K.A., Newth, J.L., Hilton, G.M. & Rees, E.C. (2018). Has winter body condition varied with population size in a long-distance migrant, the Bewick’s Swan (Cygnus columbianus bewickii)?European Journal of Wildlife Research.

Wood, K.A., Nuijten, R.J., Newth, J.L., Haitjema, T., Vangeluwe, D., Ioannidis, P., Harrison, A.L., Mackenzie, C., Hilton, G.M., Nolet, B.A. & Rees, E.C. (2018). Apparent survival of an Arctic‐breeding migratory bird over 44 years of fluctuating population size. Ibis, 160, 413-430.

Rees, E.C. & Fox A.D. (eds.) (2010–2017). Wildfowl 60–67.

Wood, K.A., Ponting, J., D'Costa, N., Newth, J.L., Rose, P.E., Glazov, P. & Rees, E.C. (2017). Understanding intrinsic and extrinsic drivers of aggressive behaviour in waterbird assemblages: a meta-analysis. Animal Behaviour, 126, 209-216.

Griffin, L., Rees, E. & Hughes, B. (2016). Satellite tracking Bewick’s Swan migration in relation to offshore and onshore wind farm sites. WWT Final Report to the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge, Gloucester

Hall C., Crowe, O., McElwaine, G., Einarsson, Ó., Calbrade, N. & Rees, E. (2016). Population size and breeding success of the Icelandic Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus: results of the 2015 international census. Wildfowl 66: 75– 97.

Newth, J.L., Rees, E.C., Cromie, R.L., McDonald, R.A., Bearhop, S., Pain, D.J., Norton, G.J., Deacon, C., Hilton, G.M. 2016. Widespread exposure to lead affects the body condition of free-living whooper swans Cygnus cygnus wintering in Britain. Environmental Pollution 209: 60–67.

Wood, K.A., Newth, J.L., Hilton, G.M., Nolet, B.A. & Rees, E.C. (2016). Inter-annual variability and long-term trends in breeding success in a declining population of migratory swans. Journal of Avian Biology, 47, 597-609.

Taylor, C., Hartley, I. & Rees, E. (2015). Landscape features and flight behaviour associated with power line collision risk for swans and geese in northwest England, and an assessment of mitigation measures for reducing risk levels. Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and Lancaster University Final Report to Electricity North West Ltd. WWT, Slimbridge, UK.

Davis, J.B., Guillemain, M., Kaminski, R.M., Arzel, C., Eadie, J.M & Rees, E.C. 2014. Habitat and resource use by waterfowl in the northern hemisphere in autumn and winter. Wildfowl (Special Issue No. 4): 17–69.

Nagy, S., Petkov, N., Rees, E.C., Solokha, A., Hilton, G., Beekman, J. & Nolet, B. 2012. International Single Species Action Plan for the Northwest European Population of Bewick’s Swan (Cygnus columbianus bewickii). AEWA Technical Series No. 44. Bonn, Germany.

Rees, E.C., Kaminski, R.M. & Webb, E.B. (eds.) (2014). Ecology and Conservation of Waterfowl in the Northern Hemisphere. Wildfowl (Special Issue No. 4).

Safi, K., Kranstauber, B., Weinzierl, R., Griffin, L., Rees, E., Cabot, D., Cruz, S., Proaño, C., Takekawa, J.Y., Newman, S., Waldenström, J., Bengtsson, D., Kays, R., Wikelski, M. & Bohrer, G. (2013). Flying with the wind: scale dependency of speed and direction measurements in the modelling of wind support in avian flight. BMC Movement Ecology 1:4.

Rees, E.C. (2012). Impacts of wind farms on swans and geese: a review. Wildfowl 62: 37–72.

Rees, E.C. & Beekman, J.H. (2010). Northwest European Bewick’s Swans: a population in decline. British Birds 103: 640-650.

Rees, E. & Guillemain, M. (eds.) (2009). Wildfowl (Special Issue No. 2).

Rees, E. 2006. Bewick’s Swan. T & A.D. Poyser, London.