Ask the Swan Specialist

Day #1 (Part 2) of the trip - Emergency: Oil Spill in Reading *Link*
By:Journal of The Regal SwanŽ Group Traveling in the UK
Date: 17 July 2007

The Oil Spill: During the ceremony (toast to the Queen), Wendy alerts Sheila that there has been an emergency and they need help. An oil spill was just reported with about six swans affected. She tells Sheila that they are leaving and some of the team will have to find a quick way back to the mainland. Sheila volunteers to help along with Geoff, Sherry and Shirley, while other team members are notified that they are to continue the night’s scheduled activities.

Race Against Time - Capturing Dozens of Swans in Reading: Racing back to the rescue center, Wendy is notified by telephone that there are now at least 24 swans affected. Loading up the rescue van, we quickly head to Reading.

Once in Reading, there is more bad news. The number of affected swans is quickly increasing by the minute.

The Plan: Our only chance is to herd them by boat and kayak up the river to the nearby lock. The lockmaster will then shut the locks where we will try to capture them by hand and using the old-age tradition of swan hooks as our last resort.

Capturing The Swans: Luring the swans along the Thames with bread, a large flock is safely secured into the locks where we begin the rescue. Volunteers hoist the birds from the river, tie their feet together, secure their wings and load them into small canvas-like bags.

60 Swans Transported To The Rescue Center: They are then loaded into the rescue van for the 20-minute trip back to the center. The call came in at around 5:30 p.m. It is now almost 10 p.m. and more than 60 swans have been rescued.

Treatment At The Rescue Center: They will be taken back to the center, washed, fed and held for the next three to four days while their feathers have a chance to dry out and rejuvenate themselves from both the oil and massive washing they will endure over the next several hours.

The Group Is Back At The Hotel After A Long Day: We arrive at the hotel around 11 p.m., grab a quick dinner and head for bed.

We are all beat up, scratched and sore from the capture.

These were wild swans and not at all happy to see the Americans grabbing them, even if it was for their best interest.

Tomorrow is a free day, thankfully so we have time to rest and heal.

The Regal SwanŽ Team on the Thames