I remember collecting James from school one Friday afternoon when he was 11 and telling him I was taking him a mystery tour, that we were going somewhere really special.
We stopped off at the chippie en route and James was bursting to know where we were heading, especially as it was only a short drive.
Each winter tens of thousands of Whooper and Bewick’s swans make their way from Iceland and Arctic Russia to spend the winter on the Ouse Washes at Welney. It really is a magical sight to see them swoop in. They look so effortlessly graceful, so Concorde like.
It’s a favourite haunt of mine, so I’m very concerned to learn that climate change could be the cause of fewer migratory swans and geese flying in. According to figures recorded in 2006-07, the number of birds fell by half from 130,000 to 64,000. As well as the Bewick, other species have worryingly declined too, including the Dunlin, one of the UK’s most abundant waders, which was the lowest since 1970, while avocets have increased in numbers.
Dr Debbie Pain, director of conservation at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, which has a reserve at Welney, said the UK one of the most important countries in the world for some of these birds.
But she is becoming increasingly concerned about the declining numbers of migratory birds. It could be they are taking advantage of milder winters by staying on the continent or finding other places to roost. Conservation action is needed urgently to reverse these declines, but what?
Does this mean we are likely to see an increase of tropical migratory birds attracted to our warmer shores instead of the familiar wetland waders, geese and swans?
I hope you like this pic which I took at Welney a couple of years ago. I’ve bought a new zoom lens for my Nikon and look forward to trying it out again soon.
Let’s hope this will not be a swan song for the Bewicks…