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The wild stars of Autumnwatch swoop into Slimbridge


WWT Slimbridge

Like many big stars they kept us waiting but this morning the first Bewick’s swans touched down at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre. 

The much-loved swans return each year after spending the summer in Arctic Russia. They are due to play a major role in the BBC’s Autumnwatch Live, when it is broadcast from Slimbridge next month.

The four swans took advantage  of the break in the wild weather and flew on the easterly wind to arrive on a sunny clear morning.

Among the group was Dario – a 12 year old male swan – who has been the first to arrive in four of the last six years.  He was with two unnamed young swans (yearlings) and a mystery adult swan who he may have paired up with over the summer.

Bewick’s swans develop an individual bill pattern when they are around one year old which allows WWT researchers to identify them. In a tradition, dating back to 1965, each swan is given a unique name.

The yearlings and the unknown adult swan will now be given a name and their bill pattern will be recorded so our scientists can follow the swan’s progress over their lifetime.

About 300 Bewick’s come to Slimbridge each year, so many more of the rare swans from Arctic Russia are expected to arrive over the next few weeks.

Last year the swans arrived early on October 18, this year their arrival time is about average.
Julia Newth, swan expert, said: “It is great to see Dario is first again. He obviously likes his winter home here at Slimbridge!
“I will be watching him and the other adult swan closely over the next few days to see if they are mates or just acquaintances.
“I will be looking out for signs of courtship and the distance between them as indicators.  The swans are enjoying their first well-deserved feed on the lake after their exhausting 3,000 km journey.”


This year the swans’ antics will be caught on camera by the Autumnwatch team when they broadcast from Slimbridge throughout November. 

Sally Munro, marketing manager, said: “We are delighted the swans have arrived in plenty of time ahead of the Autumnwatch filming at Slimbridge. 
“We are really excited about welcoming the whole Autumnwatch team including the presenters Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan and Martin Hughes Games on the site and hope our visitors will enjoy watching Slimbridge on their TV screens, as well as coming to see all the winter wildlife here.
“The first show will be broadcast from here on Friday November 4 so remember to tune in!”


Visitors can also see the swans up close during our daily wild bird feeds at 3.30pm and 4.30pm, which are included in the cost of admission. 

For a truly magical experience you can also come to one of the floodlit swan feeds which are every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in November from 6.30pm (adults £5, children £3).

From Monday one family per week will win tickets to the floodlit swan feed event, followed by a meal and places in the audience for that week’s Autumnwatch Unsprung show, which will be filmed live from Slimbridge every Friday.

To enter just pick up a form and hand it in at Slimbridge. The draw will take place every Wednesday.


Explore Gloucestershire
25 october 2011

 


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