The famous 'bell-ringing' swans living at a historic palace in Wells

  • Watch the swans preparing their nest at Bishop's Palace in Wells ahead of the arrival of cygnets in the spring.

The resident swans at the Bishop's Palace in Wells have begun building their nest, with their progress being captured on a special 'swancam'.

The live stream which allows people to watch the birds online has been launched early and has been placed right next to the nest, meaning viewers will get a great view of the eggs and cygnets once they hatch.

The two resident swans, Grace and Gabriel, are the latest in a long line of swans to have lived on the moat of the Bishop's Palace. The historic site has been home to swans since the 1850s.

Gabriel building the nest, which takes weeks to prepare before the arrival of eggs. Credit: Bishop's Palace

One person who knows more than most about the many swans that have called the Bishops' palace home is Moira Anderson, who has been named the 'swan whisperer'.

She told ITV News West Country: "The first year they arrived in 2019, Gabriel's nest was about six sticks. I was most disappointed with his nest, but he's doing amazingly well.

"It's fascinating to watch and it takes him weeks, weeks and weeks to build.

There have been many cygnets hatching over the years at Bishop's Palace. Credit: Moira Anderson

"This is the earliest we've been able to get the 'swancam' out. They have behaved amazingly and they've actually built the nest in a perfect spot probably assisted by our gardeners who collect lots of garden debris and put in a nice pile.

"The swans of very spoilt, they don't have to forage for their nest material. They literally just build it into a nest."

The swans ringing the bell asking for food at the Gatehouse. Credit: Matt Groom

The swans at Bishop's Palace also have the unusual skill of bell ringing, a tradition that dates back more than a hundred and fifty years, when it's believed the daughter of a Bishop first taught the swans to ring a bell at the Gatehouse for food.

The 'swancam' has been set up every year for the past 12 years, with thousands of people checking in on the birds from all over the world.

Moira said: "We get calls and emails from Australia and America going 'It's so exciting, we get to see the camera!'.

"And then when cygnets are hatching everybody's all over the place. It seems to be kind of an annual event."