We made a trip to the UK’s headquarters of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge, the home of Sir Peter Scott. A man who, as a small boy, had a major influence on my interests in birds and wildlife in general. Slimbridge is also the home of the Bewick’s Swan, and for generations now, these wild swans winter in good numbers at Slimbridge.
Peter Scott, during his studies of the Bewick Swan, soon realised that each swan could be individually identified by their bill markings, in a very similar fashion to the human finger print. An information bank has now been created at Slimbridge, enabling scientists to identify each swan on its annual return.
We had left it a little late, visiting on 7th March, and most of the Bewick’s had already left the reserve, heading back to arctic Russia and Siberia where they breed.
Note the pattern of yellow on the bill. Bewick’s Swan are smaller that Whooper Swan but the best way to tell them apart is by the shape and patterning of the yellow on the bill. The yellow finishes at a point on Whooper Swan, but on Bewick’s Swan it is squared off.
Common Cranes are also on the Dumbles now and it was great to see around 6 of these birds. It is also a good place to see Pintail and luckily these beautiful ducks put on a show for my camera.