Two new black swans introduced in Devon town

  • Report by Jacquie Bird

Two black swans have been released in Dawlish to swell numbers after the famous herd was hit by bird flu.

Black swans have been a feature in the Devon town since the early 20th century, when the first pair were brought over from New Zealand.

They are the unofficial symbol of Dawlish and a major tourist attraction.

An outbreak of avian influenza in 2020 claimed the lives of 11 of the group, sparking concerns the beautiful creatures might be lost altogether.

But the town has since rallied round to raise money for replacements.

One of the black swans being carried to its new home on Dawlish Brook. Credit: ITV West Country

The breeding pair has been brought in from Hull, which will widen the group's gene pool. The pen and cob spent a week in the town's aviary before being allowed out onto the brook.

Don Phillips, Dawlish Waterfowl Warden, said: "They don't know what's here. They didn't know the cars, the traffic, the people. It's all new to them. So we wanted to get them a little bit used to what was going on before I released them out today."

The new duo have quickly adapted to their new environment and there are high hopes there will be cygnets before too long.

The duo seem to have settled in to their new home in Dawlish and is hoped that they could breed soon. Credit: ITV West Country

Fundraiser Mandy Bagdi said: "We've got the two breeding pairs at the moment now. These are new to us, these ones here, and, hopefully - you never know - we might have some more by the end of the year."

As well as bird flu, the popular swans were also hit by infertility issues last year. There is already better news in 2021 - Dawlish's other breeding pair has produced three cygnets this spring.

This little cygnet will grow up to be one of Dawlish's famous black swans. Credit: Dawlish Beach Cams

You can catch up with the VIP residents of Dawlish on the town's Black Swan Cam - and - with any luck - catch a glimpse of the new arrivals or some of those very cute youngsters as they find their way in the world.

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