WWT has been monitoring swans since it was founded by Sir Peter Scott in 1946. At Caerlaverock we have been ringing whooper swans since 1987 and all the data goes onto our swan database. We thought we would share some of the stories we have discovered about our whooper swans in the time we have been ringing them, and some of the swan dynasties. A number of the Caerlaverock whooper swans are named. Here are some of our characters!
Methuselah has returned to Caerlaverock every year since 1997, when he was ringed as a cygnet Yellow U54. He has returned again this year, so he is 25 years old this summer. Other than a brief trip to Welney for Christmas in 1999, he has returned to Caerlaverock every year since 1997.
'Methuselah' Photo credit: Lorraine Hall
From 2000 – 2007, he returned with his mate Yellow BPA and together they brought back 7 cygnets that were later ringed; Yellow 59Y, 66I, 97P, X54, K94, J7V and J7Z. In February 2007, Methuselah and Yellow BPA were seen in Drummuir, but other than that they stayed around the Caerlaverock area.
For the next few years Methuselah did not return with a mate - until 2011 - when he returned with Yellow Z9T who was later named 'Suzanne'. Since then, they have returned annually for 9 years. In 2017, 3 of their cygnets were ringed; Yellow ZVB 'Eilidh', Orange XLX 'Linda Graham' and Yellow ZVF.
Methuselah’s parents were Yellow AYU 'Jay' and Yellow 7FF 'Letitia'. Jay was ringed in 1989 and Letitia was ringed in 1982. Together they came back for 12 years. They spent time around Dumfries and were also both seen at Druridge Bay in Northumberland in November 1992. Only two of the many cygnets they brought back were ringed; Methuselah (Yellow U54) and Yellow 7FX. 7FX did a tour of our wetland centres, being sighted at Martin Mere, Welney and Caerlaverock but he was last seen in 2000.
Originally ringed Yellow NT6 as an adult in 2003, T.J.Whooper has returned every year since. Subsequently ringed Orange ZLJ he returned with Red BGU from 2004-2011, although no cygnets were recorded.
'T. J. Whooper'
From 2013 until the present, he has returned with Yellow ZHL who is named 'Whoopie'.
In 2014 they brought back four cygnets; orange YHX, orange YJA, orange YJK 'Doreen', and orange XKU 'Solway Siren'. In 2018, 2 more cygnets were ringed: yellow ZHC and yellow ZLX. Doreen spent 2 years at Martin Mere and was last seen there in December 2017.
'T. J. Whooper', 'Whoopie' and their family. Photo credit: Faith Hillier
Eric Anthony was ringed Orange YFB in February 2014 and the following year arrived with Elsie Barbara (Red APR). For the last 6 years they have arrived together and have brought cygnets back regularly.Elsie Barbara was spotted Alftaver, South Iceland on 5th October 2015 just before she migrated, as she was first seen at Caerlaverock on 20th November 2015. They were both seen in the same place in Iceland in August 2018, so it could be a favoured nesting area. Elsie Barbara weighs 10.2Kg compared with Eric Anthony who is 11.6Kg. These are average weights for adult male and female swans.
Elsie Barbara has now lost her darvic ring but can be identified by her metal and the fact she is with Eric Anthony. This season (2020-21) they have brought back 4 cygnets and are regularly seen on the whooper pond! In 2018-19 they brought 6 cygnets, however in 2019-20, 2017-18 & 2016-17 & 2015-16 they returned with no cygnets.
'Elsie Barbara' Photo credit: Alex Hillier
Our whooper swans are fed daily at 11am & 2pm. We are not open to the public at the present, but watch all the action on the whooper pond with our live webcam.
Take some time out to watch some slow TV with a closer view of the swan feed, from Wheelbarrow cam!