Family of swans spark international tracking operation at WWT Martin Mere


A family of swans at WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre has become the focus of an international tracking operation after leaving behind one of their cygnets in Ireland.

Over the summer, WWT’s Species Monitoring Assistant, Kane Brides spent time in Iceland monitoring and researching Whooper swans and Pink-footed geese on their breeding grounds. During this time a family of 5 swans were ringed at Engivtn in northern Iceland on 4 August: BZS, BZL, BZN, BZP plus the parents BZJ and Y9S (pictured with Kane).

Kane Brides said: “What is unique about this story is that  BZJ and Y9S has recently escaped the cold weather and arrived at WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre with just 3 cygnets with them (BZL, BZN & BZP) and we had sadly assumed that the 4th cygnet had died during the migration. However, news came in last week that a cygnet was seen in Ireland on 27 December, unusually staying on the fringes of the flock. George McDermott contacted WWT and we were astounded to see that this young swan was BZS; he has either been ditched or simply left behind in Ireland which is rare to hear of.  He will be staying on the fringes of the flock with having no family to back him up if disputes occur but it is great to hear that he is alive, albeit alone.”

The cygnet BZS is currently at Inch Wildfowl Reserve in Ireland and is now as part of an international tracking operation between England, Ireland and Iceland to see if the swan reunites with its family either at WWT Martin Mere this winter or back in Iceland this Spring.

This unusual and fascinating story is just one of the many stories you can hear all winter at WWT Martin Mere. There are a number of birds with detailed histories and you can look for these birds during the daily swan feeds at 3pm and 3.30pm, when up to 2000 Whooper swans feed before your eyes.

WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre is open every day (except Christmas Day) from 9.30am to 4.30pm during winter months and parking is free of charge. Situated off the A59, it is signposted from the M61, M58 and M6.  The Centre is also accessible via the Southport to Manchester and the Liverpool to Preston line by train from Burscough Rail Stations.  Visit the web site to find out what’s on all year round at Martin Mere and the other eight WWT Wetland Centres.


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