At Loch Leven we’ve had record numbers of whooper swans in the last couple of years. Over 800 have been recorded on their migration in November and over 200 have spent the rest of the winter with us.
We presume most of these birds breed in Iceland. This is because ornithologists mark the birds with rings that can be read with a telescope in the field.
This winter I read the ring of one bird. It was part of a family party feeding on winter wheat near the causeway to Scotlandwell.
The male bird (pictured, you can see the top of its head at the back of the shot) was rung in Iceland as an adult in 2000. It was originally caught in an area called Sandvatn, about 100 miles north east of Reykjavik. From here it was seen in south west Ireland but went undetected for 10 years before it appeared at Loch Leven. This bird will be over 14 years old now. The oldest recorded whooper swan was over 23 years.
This bird was having quite a torrid time. It was attached to a family of 3 youngsters. It was quite often chased away by the adults but it would not leave them. This family of birds chose to feed away from the rest of the swan herd which fed on the other side of the River Leven towards the Fife border.
Keep an eye out for ringed birds. All data collected is useful for helping the survival of the species.