Better year for Bewick’s swans, with numbers up

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Threatened Bewick’s swans are arriving from their Russian breeding grounds with larger numbers of youngsters than experts have seen for more than a decade.

Surveys of the species in UK wintering grounds reveal that 17.6 per cent of the flock are youngsters, compared with an average of around 10 per cent over the past ten years. It is good news for the Bewick’s swan population which has seen steep declines since the 1990s.

The boost to numbers, which indicates a good breeding season for the bird in the Russian Arctic, is replicated across northern Europe, conservationists said. Counts reveal an average of 14 per cent young within the flocks, the highest level since 2001.

Julia Newth, wildlife health research officer at WWT, said: “We still need to find out what is driving down Bewick’s numbers and reverse this decline, but this year’s good breeding season is very welcome news.”