British wildlife recordings
Cygnus columbianus : Bewick's Swan - Anatidae
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Slimbridge, Gloucestershire: OS Grid Reference(373500,203500)
Bewick's Swan, Cygnus columbianus
The call of the Bewicks Swan recorded at Slimbridge, Gloucestershire, on 14 February, 1966. The Bewicks swan is the smallest of the three British swans, but makes up for its diminutive stature by being quite a vocal bird. Bewicks breed on the Russian tundra and only visit Britain between mid-October and the end of March to spend the winter on a few choice areas of wet pasture, flooded grassland, and salt marsh. Breeding pairs are thought to stay loyal to each other and 'divorce' is virtually unknown. However, if one mate dies, the surviving bird will usually find another partner before the onset of the following breeding season. On their wintering grounds they tend to be very sociable birds and stick together in family groups, which in turn coalesce to form very large flocks at favoured wintering sites such as Slimbridge or the Ouse Washes. These flocks can become very noisy affairs, particularly during take-off and landing, as birds reaffirm family ties and meet up with other family groups. Around 9,000 or a third of the European population, over-winter in Britain and Ireland and this number has increased in recent years. Over 90% of the European population winter on just ten sites so their conservation at the wintering grounds is of the utmost importance.