Canal And River Trust sighting cygnets

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The Canal and River Trust is calling upon members of the public in South Yorkshire to join the joys of spring and tweet their sightings of the season’s first cygnets along some of the counties best loved waterways.

The nationwide project, which aims to encourage interest but also respect for wildlife, will chart the highs and lows of one of our most loved and iconic waterway birds – the mute swan.

The initiative will report the public’s first sightings of breeding pairs, their nests and then their young, whilst the Trust’s ecologists will follow the progress of a number of breeding pairs and their cygnets through to the autumn. They will provide regular blog updates, photos and video via Twitter and on the charity’s website.

Dr Mark Robinson, ecologist for the Canal and River Trust, said: “The swan is such an impressive and instantly identifiable sight. We are really fortunate to have such a majestic bird living and raising its young on our waterways. It’s a bird that enthuses and inspires people to go on and learn more about wildlife. And because the swan is common on nearly all of the nation’s canals, rivers and lakes, it’s a project that just about everyone can join in and get involved with.

“As well as Canal & River Trust ecologists following swan families throughout the year, we also really want people close to the canals of South Yorkshire to get involved with this project by tweeting their own swan success stories and photos, sharing with others the fantastic highs and a few inevitable lows.

“I’d expect the first sightings to come in the weeks ahead from the South where spring arrives just that little bit earlier. Similarly, we can expect to see sightings earlier in our cities which can be a degree of two warmer than the countryside.

“A crucial part of this project is about the importance of respecting the waterway wildlife that’s on our doorsteps. Like any new parent, wildlife can get a bit grouchy and protective, so do please take an interest and do get involved, but also remember to give the mums and dads their space at this very special time of the year.”

People can follow the project at www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/swan-story and can tweet their own updates and photos using #swanstory. A chosen breeding pair of swans will also be Tweeting their day-to-day ‘birds eye’ views and experiences of raising a swan family in 21st Century Britain @SwanThoughts.

Swan fast facts:

Swans, their nests and eggs are legally protected and it is an offence for anyone to interfere with a swan or intentionally injure, take or kill a wild swan.

There are three species of swan in the UK, but only the mute swan breeds here, the other two just over winter on these shores

The collective name for a group of swans is a bevy or lamentation

The belief that they mate for life is unfounded – they have an average of four mates during their lifetimes

The rumour of royal ownership also enhances the swan’s regal bearing.  In truth, the Queen only claims ownership of some unmarked swans on certain stretches of the Thames

Swans form strong emotional bonds when they do their pair up, and both parents play a role in guarding and bringing up their offspring

Young cygnets leave the nest after just two days and follow their parents to the water

Female swans are called Pens and males are known as Cobs

Swans weigh up to 12kg and take off by running across the water as fast as they can with their wings flapping.  Once airborne they can reach speeds of up to 55mph

The V-shaped formation adopted by swans flying in groups is called a ‘wedge’

Swans often reuse the same nest each year restoring it or rebuilding it as needed