Surveys have revealed that the swan count in Fenland is ‘very low’

PUBLISHED: 11:56 19 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:56 19 December 2017

Surveys have revealed that the swan count in Fenland is ‘very low’

Surveys have revealed that the swan count in Fenland is ‘very low’


Swan counts have revealed that numbers of Bewick’s swans are very low for this point in the season at WWT Welney Wetland Centre.

Surveys have revealed that the swan count in Fenland is ‘very low’Surveys have revealed that the swan count in Fenland is ‘very low’

The most recent count carried out in December has shown that 147 Bewick’s swans are currently using the wetlands of the Ouse Washes in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

This winter, Bewick’s swans are finding more food throughout Europe, which is giving them opportunities to continue feeding up rather than pushing on with their migration.

The availability of food and fresh water is due to a lack of snow fall and mild temperatures in countries further east along the flyway.

Bewick’s swans migrate to the UK from Arctic Russia, where they spend the summer breeding season. Initially they pass through Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, where we believe many of the swans may still be, then on to Poland, Germany and finally the Netherlands.

Reports from Dutch swan experts show that they have no more than 2,000 Bewick’s swans currently, compared with 6,000 at this point last year.

The Bewick’s swans that have arrived here already are settling in for the winter amongst 7,078 whooper swans. So there is by no means a shortage of swans in the area.

Hetty Grant, warden at WWT Welney, said: “A cold front on the continent may force the Bewick’s further west, and then we could potentially see an influx in January, if conditions change.

“Anyone can assist with gathering this information by reporting leg rings, so make sure you keep an eye out.”

During the day the swans are feeding on the arable land of the Fens, and it doesn’t take long driving between the local towns and villages, to spot a flock of white swans against the brown fields of sugar beet tops and cereal stubs.

Monitoring of the flocks by staff and volunteers of WWT includes identifying individual swans by the unique leg rings or neck collars fitted to a sample of the population. Recording sightings of ringed swans helps us monitor the survival trends of these birds.

Any reports of ringed birds from members of the public are actively helping us to monitor these birds.

If you see a ringed swan let us know the colour and code on the ring, along with the date and location of the bird and your details by emailing

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