Ask the Swan Specialist
Date: 19 July 2007
Trip From London to Abbotsbury: We packed up our gear and headed to Abbotsbury today. The trip took about three hours and we dropped our bags in the hotel at Dorchester and immediately grabbed a cab to drive 20 minutes down to the swannery.
The Abbotsbury Swannery was started more than 600 years ago by a group of monks. King Henry VIII destroyed the abbey and sold the land. The family that owned the land was granted the rights to own the swans. The swannery serves both as one of the largest nesting sites for wild Mute Swans and the area that the swans choose to return to for their annual molt.
Bad Weather: We are now in a battle against the weather. Shirley and Shawn are trying to capture as much still footage as possible, while Sherry is videotaping the area. There is some clearing now, but the weather is supposed to take a turn for the worst, tomorrow with lots of rain.
Meeting With The Swannery’s Swan Keeper: The team is scheduled to meet with David Wheeler, the swannery’s swan keeper, where a special meeting will be held to determine the team’s role during Saturday’s swan upping. The event will involve catching more than 600 wild Mute Swans. Geoff has been asked to help with veterinary duties while Fancy, Sally, Susan, Sherry, Rebecca and Sheila will help with the capture and medical exams including vaccinations and blood samples.
After the meeting, we head down to the shoreline to watch as the large flock competes for food along the banks of the estuary.
In addition to the swans, it is anticipated that hundreds of wild Canadian geese will also be caught and separated from the Abbotsbury flock.
Dr. Geoff Gardner and David Wheeler from Abbotsbury Swannery
David Wheeler, Susan Loughery and Sheila Bolin