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.
Many more Bewick’s swans are expected to arrive at WWT Slimbridge in the coming weeks, with numbers usually reaching 300.
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.
This year's high temperatures have led to a baby boom for the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge.
The Chilean flamingo flock hatched 11 chicks which were parent-reared, with a further nine eggs sent to WWT Washington for hand-rearing.
This is the highest number at the Centre in at least 20 years.
Staff say the Caribbean flamingos also had their strongest year since 2007, hatching and rearing 15 chicks.
The largest Bewick's swan family ever recorded has arrived at the Wildfowl and Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire.
'Everton', and his new mate 'Rovers' have brought their six cygnets with them. They've joined 200 more of the threatened wild swans after a 2,500 mile journey from arctic Russia.
It may be "seven swans-a-swimming" in the carol but Slimbridge has gone one up!