|Bewick's swan have started on their long migration|
I read that a Bewick's swan cygnet appears to have been abandoned by his parents at Wildfowl & Wetlands's Trust reserve at Slimbridge in Gloucestershire. Bewick's migrate in large family groups and due to recent mild weather all but ten of the Slimbridge flock have departed already.
The lone cygnet has latched onto Slimbridge regulars Wooton and Stinchcombe and their four cygnets, but is spending much of its time calling in the hope of being reunited with its own parents.
Occasionally cygnets become separated from their parents during migration when there is perhaps bad weather, however it is rather more unusual to see such a separation before the journey has begun. It will be interesting to see if it leaves with its adopted family and manages to stay with them to be guided back to Russia on the 2,500-mile journey.
The Bewick's Swan study at Slimbridge celebrated its 50th anniversary earlier this month. Its findings have opened up the social structure of Bewick's Swans' lives, revealing their lifelong pairing and strong family bonds.
The longest-running dynasty is known as the 'gambling' dynasty, after a young swan was ringed and named Casino in 1971. Over the years that she returned to Slimbridge she brought back 32 cygnets, who in turn brought back cygnets of their own. This winter three generations of this family have stayed at Slimbridge, bringing their own respective partners and families, making them one of the most dominant and successful dynasties in the flock.
The study has also revealed the occasional anomaly, such as in 2010 when a regular pair, Saruni and Sarindi, returned with different partners. It was only the second instance of a swan 'divorce' in the entire study of more than 4,000 pairs.