The Queen’s Swan Marker, David Barber, has revealed details of this year’s swan upping, the annual census of the swan population on the River Thames.
The royal count will start on Monday 17th July at Sunbury lock cut, and will continue up river all the way to Abingdon Bridge in Oxfordshire on Friday 21st July.
The British Crown enjoys ownership of all unmarked mute swans in open water, making swans some of the Queen’s more unusual possessions, and swan upping is now used as a way to check on the numbers and health of the birds.
Mr Barber said: “There has been a consistent decrease in cygnet numbers over recent years and we are very much hoping that we will see a reversal in this trend in 2017.
“There have been many reports of large brood numbers on the river. However, the risks posed to both young cygnets and the adult birds continue to affect the number that survive each year.
“In addition to the natural predators the swans face every day, there has been a disappointing increase in reported dog attacks that have caused immense and unnecessary suffering and deaths within the mute swan population. Furthermore, we have had reports of eggs being stolen, nesting swans being attacked by vandals and swans being shot.
“We ask members of the public who walk their dogs in the vicinity of nesting swans or young cygnets to please keep their dogs under control. These attacks are so easily avoided and they cause such devastation to the swan population.
“We are delighted to have many primary schools visiting Swan Upping again this year. We believe that teaching young children to respect and nurture the wildlife that surrounds them provides a solid foundation for the future conservation and protection of mute swans and other creatures that live on or near our rivers. ”
Local schools seeking further information about Swan Upping week should contact the Swan Marker’s office on 01628 523030 or email email@example.com.
Meanwhile, the observation points and times are as follows (all times given are approximate):
Monday 17th July 2017
Sunbury Lock Cut 09.00 – Departure point
Shepperton Lock 10.45
Penton Hook Lock 12.30
Romney Lock 17.30
Tuesday 18th July 2017
Eton Bridge 08.45 – Departure point
Boveney Lock 09.45
Boulters Lock 13.00
Cookham Bridge 14.00
Marlow Lock 17.30
Wednesday 19th July 2017
Marlow Bridge 09.00 – Departure point
Hurley Lock 10.30
Hambleden Lock 12.00
Henley Town 13.30
Marsh Lock 15.30
Shiplake Lock 17.00
Sonning Bridge 18.00
Thursday 20th July 2017
Sonning-on-Thames 09.00 – Departure point
Caversham Lock 10.15
Mapledurham Lock 12.15
Goring Lock 17.00
Friday 21st July 2017
Moulsford 09.00 – Departure point
Benson Lock 10.15
Clifton Hampden Bridge 13.00
Culham Lock 16.15
Abingdon Bridge 17.00