Whooper swans hatched from injured birds at Welney Wetland Centre pictured migrating north towards Iceland for first time ever
- Credit: WWT
For the first time, swans hatched from injured birds at the Welney Wetland Centre have been photographed heading north towards Iceland.
In 2018, two pairs of whooper swans left six babies. They were all fitted with leg ring trackers by staff at the wetland centre near Littleport.
The trust say they weren't even sure if the birds would leave the Ouse Washes. To their surprise, three of the birds were reported on their travels up north.
'ZAN' was the first swan to be spotted flying over Bempton Cliffs, East Yorkshire at the end of May.
An eagle-eyed photographer managed to capture this swan flying north with another ringed bird, possibly a sibling.
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Hetty Grant, warden at WWT Welney, said: "It has been exciting to see how far these birds would venture from our wetland reserve as they missed out on the experience of making the migration from Iceland to the UK in autumn.
"Most whooper swans accompany their cygnets on the migration 1,200 miles south for winter.
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"These cygnets might not make the full migration to Iceland this summer, even if they do they will still be too young to make a breeding attempt.
"We will be eagerly scanning leg rings this winter as the whooper swans arrive, to see if they return to WWT Welney."
Whooper swans are a winter visitor to the UK, escaping the Arctic conditions in Iceland for the relatively mild conditions here.
Since 2011 whooper swans that are unable to make the migration to Iceland, due to wing injuries, have bred on the Ouse Washes at Welney.
The wing injuries seen on the birds that remain in the UK are most likely caused by power line collisions.
David Roberts, assistant warden at WWT Welney, said: "This summer we have again seen two pairs of whooper swans with broods of cygnets on the reserve.
"Over the coming weeks and months visitors will be able to watch them grow to the size of the adults and turn from fluffy babies to elegant juveniles.
"Due to the injuries of the parents, restricting their range, visitors are given an opportunity to see whooper swan cygnets without having to travel to remote locations in northern Scotland or even Iceland."
The adult whooper swans are white with a yellow and black bill, whilst the cygnets are a silver, grey colour with a white or pink and black bill.
All being well, by the time swans start arriving from Iceland in the autumn the Welney cygnets will be adult sized and may have even attempted their first flights around the reserve.