Live updates

Better late than never! Swans arrive at Slimbridge

The first family of Bewick's swans at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre this winter Credit: James Lees

The winter's first family of Bewick's swans arrived at Slimbridge Wetland Centre today. The event is traditionally seen as heralding the start of winter - and this year it's around two weeks later than usual.

The small, wild swans migrate from Russia to the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust in Gloucestershire every year. Normally they finish their journey by mid-to-late October, but this year’s mild weather and unfavourable wind directions dramatically delayed the first arrivals.

The family of two adults and two cygnets touched down this morning. Mum and dad were quickly identified from their distinctive bill patterns as WWT regulars Nurton and Nusa.

We are excited to see that the first arrivals are a family because the swans desperately need more cygnets to bolster the dwindling population.

They are familiar with the reserve as they have spent the last five winters here. Their cygnets have now learnt the migration route from their parents and we are hoping that they will also become regular fixtures here.

– Julia Newth, swan expert at WWT Slimbridge
The small, wild swans migrate from Russia every winter Credit: James Lees

Many more Bewick’s swans are expected to arrive at WWT Slimbridge in the coming weeks, with numbers usually reaching 300.

A icy treat for Gloucestershire's otters

Otters are keeping their cool at The Wildfowl and Wetland Trust at Slimbridge with the help of some special fish lollies.

Keeper John Crooks has been busy making the lollies by putting ingredients such as smelt, trout, minced beef and sardines in moulds to create the chilled treats.

John the keeper gives his otters fishy ice lollies at Slimbridge Credit: The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT)

“It isn’t just our visitors enjoying ice lollies in this hot weather our otters love them too!

“They enjoy playing outdoors in all weathers so this is a way of keeping them cool with the added bonus that the texture of the ice gives their teeth a bit of a clean too.”

– WWT Otter Keeper, John Crooks
The lollies are made of fish and put in moulds to create the chilled treats. Credit: The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT)

WWT Slimbridge has three North American River Otters called Flo, Minnie and Ha ha.

Advertisement

Advertisement

50 years of studying swans

Bewick swans at Slimbridge Credit: Wetlands & Wildfowl Trust

One of the longest-running animal research projects in the world is 50 today. The Bewick's swan study was started at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge in Gloucestershire by Sir Peter Scott in 1964.

He noticed that the birds have unique bill patterns, which researchers have to learn before they can take part.

More than 9,000 different swans have been identified. The work has provided data on survival rates and meant breeding sites in Russia have been protected.

Slimbridge's newest visitor

Staff at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in Gloucestershire say visitors are loving seeing a seal at the reserve.

A harbour seal has been making the River Severn near the Slimbridge reserve its happy hunting ground for the last 2 months.The harbour seal is usually found on the east coast, in Northern Ireland and in Scotland.

It presumably comes in with the tide each day and has chosen to hunt just off our reserve.

It is very specific where it hunts as it seems to have learnt where the fish will be at a certain state of the tide.

It likes to feed between the land and an island in the river.

It is also quite a prolific hunter and seems to catch at least four or five large grey mullet every day.

We have also seen it take and eat a gull from the surface of the water.

– James Lees, Warden at Slimbridge Reserve
Load more updates