From Russia with love - the first Bewick swans arrive at Welney WWT

Bewick swans at Welney WWT

Bewick swans at Welney WWT - Credit: Archant

The first two Bewick’s swans of autumn have arrived at WWT Welney Wetland Centre after flying to the Fens from Russia.

Bewick swans at Welney WWT

Bewick swans at Welney WWT - Credit: Archant

Their arrival comes after a record number of birds at the Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire adding to speculation that we are in for a long and bitter winter.

Centre Manager, Leigh Marshall said: “It is an unusual start to the season this year due in part to weather conditions and wind directions.

“The first whooper swans only arrived last week. To have the two species arriving within a week of one another is very unusual.

“We have been eagerly anticipating the first Bewick’s swans from Arctic Russia.

Bewick swans in flight at Welney WWT

Bewick swans in flight at Welney WWT - Credit: Archant

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“With the help of modern technology and a hugely important research project into these rare swans, we have seen satellite-tagged individuals making their way closer to the UK over the last week.

“We had been expecting the sight of the first whooper swan since late September, but we could see that the wind direction would make for a hard journey with it blowing away from the UK.

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“Swans respond to day length and weather when choosing when to start large movements south, but it does make life easier for them if they have a tail-wind.

“As anybody that has visited WWT Welney in the winter will know, the sight and sound of thousands of swans filling the skies creates memories that last a lifetime.”

Unusually cold weather is currently sweeping parts of Western Russia and Eastern Europe. Temperatures are 5-10 degrees centigrade below average, she said.

Peak numbers for this species can reach almost 6,000 in the very coldest winters.

Add this to more than 7,000 whooper swans and you have possibly the largest concentrations of swans in the UK.

WWT Welney Wetland Centre gives visitors access through a range of events and activities which are included in the normal admission price unless otherwise stated.

Winter wild swan feeds; 3.30pm daily from Thurs 22 October.

Swan’s awake in October; Sat 24, Sun 25, Sat 31 October and in November; Sun 1, Sat 28 and Sun 29.

Swans and stars, Wed October 28 and Sat November 21.

Floodlit evening swan feeds, 6.30pm every Thursday to Sunday from Sunday November 1.

Cost is £10 per adult, £5 per child.

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