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Swan team departs Slimbridge. Next stop... Russia!

Sacha Dench flying her paramotor. She faces freezing temperatures. Photo: Slimbridge wildfowl and wetlands trust

Remember 'Swan woman' Sacha Dench? She's the woman who’s making the world’s first attempt to follow migrating swans by air.

Well now a team of volunteers have set off from Slimbridge in Gloucestershire headed for Arkhangelsk, Russia, where they will meet up with Sacha.

The team prepare for departure Credit: Slimbridge wildfowl and wetlands trust

The team includes a medic, a mechanic, a journalist, a photographer and two cameramen. Together they will support Sacha Dench from the ground as she flies 7,000km across 11 countries in a powered paraglider.

Training in Sweden, Sacha encountered some beautiful sights. Credit: Slimbridge wildfowl and wetlands trust

Along the way they will meet the people who the swans cross paths with each year, and investigate the dramatic decline in the swan population that has happened over the last two decades.

Making some final checks Credit: Slimbridge wildfowl and wetlands trust

They will highlight the perils and wonders of the incredible journey that the birds complete twice a year, starting from just a few months old.

You'll be able to follow their progress here.

It's amazing to see all these months of planning come together. It’s a really nice feeling to see them all go.

– Julia Newth, Researcher
Ready? Let's go! Credit: Slimbridge wildfowl and wetlands trust

“I’m really looking forward to getting up to Russia. I cannot wait to find the Bewick’s swans in their natural habitat and film them as they do their migration down to the UK.

"The whole trip is going to be really really exciting: looking after Sacha and keeping her going on this amazing personal journey she’s doing, and getting to know the team more.”

– Ben Cherry, Photographer

Sacha Dench is currently in the far north of Russia near the Bewick’s swans’ breeding grounds, waiting for weather conditions to trigger their migration.

Sacha's training involves flying near the arctic circle to get used to the cold Credit: Slimbridge wildfowl and wetlands trust

Once they depart, she will follow their route across the tundra, stopping to refuel and rest at hunters’ huts along the coast, until she reaches the support team in Arkhangelsk.

Sacha and the team will broadcast regular video updates live from the expedition on www.flightoftheswans.org.