Saturday 5 January 2013

Whooper Swan in North Warwickshire

The Whooper Swan is a scarce winter visitor to the West Midlands region and is even more rare in Warwickshire.  As such, this species that breeds in Iceland and northern Scandinavia has eluded my County list for thirty years. I have had plenty of sightings in Staffordshire which accounts for nearly 80% of all our regional records. I have also had the odd out-of-season feral bird in Warwickshire, as well as occasional hybrids and more than a few near misses. As a result I was pretty excited when I received a text from Tom Perrins to say that Geoff Williams had found a Whooper Swan just inside the County boundary near Bodymoor Heath.

Whooper Swan (adult) - Hunts Green, Warwickshire
Photo by Adam Archer

After racing over from Stubbers Green near Walsall, I abandoned my vehicle outside the Aston Villa training facility and quick stepped it over the road. A scan of the field immediately produced a splendid adult Whooper Swan amongst six Mute Swans. Judging by the voracious manner of its feeding and drinking, this bird must have been a fresh arrival from further north. There was also a group of four birds spotted in flight over Belvide and Gailey reservoirs this morning and the flock at Gringley Carr in Nottinghamshire had increased to 45 birds today. I was more than happy with a rare and well overdue addition to my Warwickshire list. 

Whooper Swan x Mute Swan hybrid
This bird has been resident at Alvecote Pools for 13 years. 

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