'Human swan' ready to return to work nine monnths after accident killed fellow researcher Dan Burton

  • Watch Ken Goodwin's interview with Sacha Dench


A Gloucestershire conservationist badly injured in a flying accident which killed a fellow researcher says she is now planning a new project.

Explorer Sacha Dench - previously known as the swan lady for her work following the birds' migration patterns - is now looking into the challenges faced by ospreys.

She had been attempting to circumnavigate Britain in a para-motor, as part of a project raising awareness of the climate crisis, when she and fellow researcher Dan Burton were involved in a mid-air accident over the western Highlands of Scotland.

Dan died from his injuries, while Sacha has spent the last nine months recuperating.

She said: "The main injuries were in my lower legs so the right leg is in a boot, but the left leg still has a frame which is being used to keep it in place while it gets stronger again,  and the metal from that is coming out of my leg in the next few weeks.

Then I should be able to be back in the water for the physio and then back working."

Sacha preparing for a para-motor flight

Sacha became known as the swan lady, or the 'Human Swan', when she followed the annual migration of Bewick swans from the Arctic tundra to the UK.

Now, she is preparing for her latest venture. Following the migration of ospreys - fish-eating birds of prey - across Europe and Africa.

She's keen to get to work.

"Getting back to this is all I really want to do now, it's been a huge motivator and my team have done a brilliant job keeping the reins of the charity whilst I've been away.

"I can get back out back out and meet all the partners that I've been speaking to for the last couple of years in preparation for this project. That's going to be incredible, and that's what I'm really focused on now."

Sacha's leg injury means she won't be flying in a para-motor this time, but she may be able to scuba dive, as part of the research involves the waters that the osprey migrate over and catch fish fish from.

She says that her friend Dan would have loved the project.

"He's been one of the key reasons behind me getting to where I am now and his wife and family are super keen, and they've expressed that, and that we keep on with the mission.

"So we're doing the flight of the osprey as much for him as for the rest of us, and for the ospreys."