Ask the Swan Specialist

Day # 4 - Using Kayakers to Round Up Swans for Capture, Medical Exams
By:Journal of The Regal Swan® Group Traveling in the UK
Date: 20 July 2007

Heavy Rain: It is 6:30 a.m. Outside it is pouring down rain and quite cold. Sheila and Shirley have decided to take a chance and are heading to the Abbotsbury swannery. David Wheeler had stated last night that if it were raining, the chance of the swans being rounded-up today would probably not be good.

Using 50+ Kayakers: The idea is to take approximately 50+ kayakers down the Abbotsbury fleet to round up any loose swans for tomorrow’s capture and medical exams.

Medical Exams, Vaccinating, Treatment: Late last night, our team was asked to help with the capture and medical exams. Dr. Geoffrey Gardner, one of the veterinarians for The Regal Swan® and Orange Lake Family of Resorts (Orlando), was asked to serve as one of the official veterinarians responsible for vaccinating the swan flock against duck viral enteritis, a deadly disease for swans in the UK. He will also be responsible for examining and treating any injured or sick swans found during the capture.

Kayakers in Action - Chase on the Water: With sporadic breaks in the weather, it was determined at 9 a.m. that the capture would proceed. The kayakers begin their three-mile journey down the estuary to chase any stragglers that have not made it down to the swannery lagoon.

Chase on the Ground: As the kayakers make their way through the rough waters, Sheila, Shirley and David Wheeler are in the chase vehicle, specifically a Land Rover, climbing over large rolling hills and down small country roads to keep the chase group in sight.

Wind and Buckets of Rain: In between breaks of sunlight, the rain is coming down in buckets. The wind is whipping the kayakers around and making the chase more difficult. As the weather really turns ugly, the group heads to shore for lunch.

After a quick briefing, the kayakers are back in the water as several swans have been spotted.

The chase team heads to the top of a hill several miles in front of the kayakers as the swans have begun to scatter.

The rest of the Regal Swan team members have arrived at the swannery and are positioning themselves with cameras in front of the arriving wild flock.

A staging area has been set up where the swans will be herded toward the lagoon. Buoys and booms have been strategically placed so that once the swans are in the predetermined area, the kayakers will form a chain or line to place the buoys to prevent any swans from escaping.

All Night Watch: The kayakers will camp along the banks tonight, ready to chase everyone toward the examining area first thing tomorrow morning.

Kayakers prepare to chase the Abbotsbury flock

Sheila Bolin helps deploy the buoys and boom