Saturday, 20 October 2018

Swan numbers are no longer on the up

THE Henley area’s swan population is continuing to decline, according to official figures.

THE Henley area’s swan population is continuing to decline, according to official figures.

Only one breeding pair with six cygnets was discovered during this year’s swan upping on the Thames.

The ceremony was cancelled for the first time in its history last year due to flooding.

But when it was last carried out in 2011, two pairs and six cygnets were found between Hambleden Lock and Henley.

This was a decrease from 2010, which in turn was also a decrease on the previous year.

This year’s swan upping began at Sunbury on Monday and finishes at Abingdon Bridge today (Friday).

The pair found in the Henley area on Wednesday were discovered at Hambleden Lock.

Swan upping dates back to the 12th century, when the Crown declared ownership of all swans. Representatives of the Crown and the Vintners’ and Dyer’s Livery Companies travel down the Thames in traditional rowing skiffs in search of the birds.

When they find a brood, they issue the traditional cry of “All up!” and surround the family with their boats before taking them aboard.They weigh the birds, measure them and check their health.

Finally, they either tag them with a livery company’s colours or leave them unmarked for the Queen. The swans are then returned to the water.

David Barber, the Queen’s swan marker, said it was likely some birds had been overlooked this year.

He said: “It wasn’t too bad but there ought to have been more cygnets than the number we found today.

“We know they are out there but because of the heat we believe they have gone up tributaries to shade themselves.

“Monday and Tuesday were very good days for us and the numbers were higher than expected, but Henley was a little bit quiet.

“We have had three years of rain and floods which have washed the birds and their nests away but it is better now.

“There was also an outbreak of a duck virus two years ago which killed a lot of cygnets and adults.”

The party stopped for lunch at the River and Rowing Museum, which is hosting an exhibition on swan upping.

It was attended by children from local schools and the town’s Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak.

Afterwards, the boats took to the water again and continued their journey towards Marsh Lock.

with sub pix - named “swan upping 1.jpg” and so on in numerical order. Submitted by Ian Wainwright.

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