Cold omen as Bewick’s Swans land at Welney

A Bewick Swan pictured in the snows of 2012 at Welney

A Bewick Swan pictured in the snows of 2012 at Welney

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The arrival of two Bewick’s Swans at the Welney Wetlands Centre today (Tuesday, October 13) has added further weight to speculations that a harsh winter is ahead.

A visitor to the centre spotted the swans this morning.

The Welney birds have arrived just a few days after “Record Breaker”, a swan which landed at the WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire on Sunday (October 11). This is the earliest date since records began at the site in 1963, which was also the year of the Big Freeze.

Traditionally Bewick’s Swans herald the start of winter but the early arrival is feared to be an omen of a hard winter.

The birds have started their westwards migration early due to low temperatures, snowfall and north easterly winds in Russia. Daytime temperatures in Russia on Monday were around 3-4C which is more like the average nightime temperature for this time of year.

Events and marketing officer at Welney Emma Brand said: “These swans are not the earliest to arrive here but they are earlier than in recent years.

“Potentially it is a sign of a cold winter.

“The earliest ever arrivals here was October 1, 1978, when a group of eight arrived.

“Generally they are moving away from Artic Russia from the colder weather which might follow them.

“Our Hooper Swans were worrying us as they are later than usual but they started to turn up last Thursday.”

The Bewick’s Swans are likely to remain at Welney until February where they will feed on the remains of harvest in the surrounding fields.