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  1. ITV Report

Royal swan census scrapped on Thames over social distancing fears

  • Want to know what swan upping is? Watch our report from 2019:

The royal tradition of swan upping has been cancelled this year along a stretch of the River Thames, because of fears over social distancing.

The annual census of the swan population has taken place since the 12th century, when the Crown took ownership of mute swans.

It was due to be held in July between Abingdon and Sunbury-on-Thames, but the event, which is popular with schools and visitors, attracts large crowds.

Swan uppers preparing to collect the birds Credit: ITV 2019

It involves royal swan uppers dressed in scarlet uniforms sitting in traditional rowing skiffs to collect swans and cygnets for weighing and measuring.

The census is conducted for conservation and educational purposes, as well as checking on the birds' welfare.

The cygnets are weighed and ringed before being returned to the water Credit: ITV Meridian 2019

The Queen's swan marker David Barber leads the count, but it has been decided this year that it cannot take place safely within social distancing guidelines.