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Swans

Whooper Swans on Hogganfield Loch, Glasgow

Every year since 1995 (perhaps before then too), two pairs of colour ringed wild whooper swans have made the 500 mile journey from Iceland to winter in the U.K.,choosing Hogganfield Loch as their base. One female has a yellow, plastic numbered collar on her neck (some 15 cms in length), placed on her (and 195 other's) neck, as part of a long-term study of their winter migration destinations, by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.

When I called in a few weeks ago, they were not there, so it was nice to see the neck collared female, and her unringed mate (iron stained on the breast and neck from the Iceland summer) had now arrived, and were as tame as ever, on the 2nd December 1998. No signs of the other pair, but perhaps other watchers have seen them.

Whooper Swans Update

Back in 1994, a Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust expedition to Iceland succeeded in ringing 194 of that country's special swans - the Whooper swan with its yellow bill.
In addition to easily-read, yellow plastic leg rings, most have a plastic neck collar fitted too, its large letters designed to be read over long distances.
Icelandic Whooper swans winter in Britain and until a few years ago, it was believed only here. Those originating from Siberia and Scandinavia wintered in the low countries of Holland and Belgium.
It was generally assumed that the two populations never mixed. Now it appears Icelandic swans regularly overshoot the UK to winter in the Polders of Holland.
But not all of them. One of the neck-collared birds ringed in 1994 and her mate chose instead to winter on Glasgow's Hogganfield Loch, with another pair from eastern Iceland.
This year, the second pair is accompanied by two cygnets who are also rapidly learning how to survive a harsh winter through the kind generosity of numerous Glaswegians.
To see such creatures, the epitomy of wild places, happily accepting bread from your fingertips in a city park, is a remarkable sight.

Attacked swan destroyed

Dog owners out and about with their pets near waterways will no doubt have noticed that around April/May is the time of years when swans nest. The female is usually incubating hard.

The Scottish SPCA recently advised dog-walkers to always keep dogs on leads when near nesting swans as they witnessed an unpleasant incident when an unleashed dog was attacked by a male swan protecting his nest. The owner, desperately trying to save his dog, threw a stone at the swan, shattering its wing.

This tragically resulted in the male swan having to be humanely destroyed, all of which could have ben avoided had the dog been on a lead in the first place.