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Better late than never! Swans arrive at Slimbridge

The first family of Bewick's swans at WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre this winter Credit: James Lees

The winter's first family of Bewick's swans arrived at Slimbridge Wetland Centre today. The event is traditionally seen as heralding the start of winter - and this year it's around two weeks later than usual.

The small, wild swans migrate from Russia to the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust in Gloucestershire every year. Normally they finish their journey by mid-to-late October, but this year’s mild weather and unfavourable wind directions dramatically delayed the first arrivals.

The family of two adults and two cygnets touched down this morning. Mum and dad were quickly identified from their distinctive bill patterns as WWT regulars Nurton and Nusa.

We are excited to see that the first arrivals are a family because the swans desperately need more cygnets to bolster the dwindling population.

They are familiar with the reserve as they have spent the last five winters here. Their cygnets have now learnt the migration route from their parents and we are hoping that they will also become regular fixtures here.

– Julia Newth, swan expert at WWT Slimbridge
The small, wild swans migrate from Russia every winter Credit: James Lees

Many more Bewick’s swans are expected to arrive at WWT Slimbridge in the coming weeks, with numbers usually reaching 300.

A icy treat for Gloucestershire's otters

Otters are keeping their cool at The Wildfowl and Wetland Trust at Slimbridge with the help of some special fish lollies.

Keeper John Crooks has been busy making the lollies by putting ingredients such as smelt, trout, minced beef and sardines in moulds to create the chilled treats.

John the keeper gives his otters fishy ice lollies at Slimbridge Credit: The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT)

“It isn’t just our visitors enjoying ice lollies in this hot weather our otters love them too!

“They enjoy playing outdoors in all weathers so this is a way of keeping them cool with the added bonus that the texture of the ice gives their teeth a bit of a clean too.”

– WWT Otter Keeper, John Crooks
The lollies are made of fish and put in moulds to create the chilled treats. Credit: The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT)

WWT Slimbridge has three North American River Otters called Flo, Minnie and Ha ha.

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