Wildlife advent calendar: Day 2: Bewick’s swan
On the 11th October this year the Bewick’s swan made an appearance all over the media. The reason being that a young male set the record for being the earliest individual of the species to arrive in the UK since records first began. There has been much speculation that this could signify an extremely cold winter, but on the contrary it is mostly due to the cold spells and strong winds being experienced back in the areas it is migrating from.
Each year around mid-October, Bewick’s swans migrate to the UK from their breeding grounds in Siberia. As the climate here is warmer in comparison, the swans spend the winter months over here before migrating back to their breeding grounds in March. While in western Europe for winter, they often forage for their food on agricultural land, feeding on leftover potatoes and grain. The majority of their summer diet consists of aquatic vegetation.
Popular locations to see Bewick’s swans in the UK include the seven estuary and Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT) reserves Slimbridge Wetland Centre and Welney Wetland Centre.
Bewick’s swans are not currently considered threatened species by the IUCN as they are very widespread with large population sizes. However, a decrease in some populations is due to the loss of wetland habitat and illegal poaching. Oil pollution is also a factor affecting populations in the far Northern regions.
IUCN Red List – Bewick’s swan
WWT- Seeing swans
Image taken from Flickr user Jacob Spinks