Saturday, 7 March 2015

Swanning About

Another one of my research hobbies is watching and recording swans. This includes both on my patch and across the town. I started this about the same time as I did my patch watching. In fact it grew out of it,

On my patch a pair of swans used to nest identified by their orange DARVIC rings as ZTG and VGY, Nicknamed unimaginatively as Veggie and Zutger. As weeks went by I came to know this pair very well and they would always come over to see if I had any seed with me. When they had cygnets they became comfortable enough with me to allow me to sit remarkably close to them even out of the water.

Sadly both these swans are dead now, Zutger from a road traffic incident and Veggie I think of old age. Their presence however got me wondering how many other swans nested in the town. The river avon flows through it and there is a canal and several lakes, thus began a semi regular survey of the wet places to ID the swans.

I undertook one such survey today in the brilliant sunshine. Sadly at the moment few of the swans in the area have been ringed making it hard to identify individuals over time, but nevertheless its an interesting pursuit.

Starting in St Nicholas Park I found a pair of Adults at the standard feeding point where all parents bring their kids to feed the ducks. This used to be the territory of a very aggressive male named ZON who eventually mellowed once he found his mate. Today this stretch is undefended and a pair of last years cygnets were still being tolerated on the opposite bankside.

Further down at Kingfisher pool were another pair of Adult. Luckily one of this had an Orange TAG revealing them to be BEF an individual I had previously recorded on the site in January a possible close relative of BEE and BED recorded in 2012. Even more luckily they were out on the bank and amiable enough to be able to read the metal tag containing all the info I need to find out more...

This metal tag reveals that it was tagged as W31824 in the UK. I have now submitted this information to the BTO via EURING and they will send me what data they have on the bird which will include where and when it was ringed and how old it was. I will let you know the follow up information when I get it.

Whilst at the pool I took the time to watch the Coots and Black-headed Gulls. The gulls are actually dainty little things and despite their swarming and diving for food quite endearing. They are just starting to get their black head indicative of their summer plumage.

From the pool I headed across town and along the canal, halfway along on the way home I found another pair and a final pair near my house. The fact that most of the swans sited seemed to be in pairs bodes well for the breeding season. Spring is here and they will soon be making nests and laying, over the next few weeks I will be checking the known nest sites more regularly to see if any of these pairs last. I will also need to visit the castle to survey the river in their grounds and check the ponds near my work.

If your interested in my swan work I did a small study the results of which are here on my website.

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