As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Annual census of swans begins on river Thames

Scarlet-clad bird-catchers in traditional river skiffs begin swan-upping duties for census dating back to medieval times

The Guardian, Monday 14 July 2014 23.53 BST

On a sunny summer afternoon on the Thames just outside London one of England's stranger seasonal rituals is under way.

Six traditional river skiffs, crewed by scarlet-clad bird-catchers, have embarked on the ancient tradition of swan-upping, the annual ornithological census of mute swans dating back to medieval times.

With their flag-decked boats they will, over the course of five days, travel upstream to round up and monitor all the birds they find between Sunbury and Abingdon.

It's a colourful spectacle, but these days it serves a greater purpose too as an important conservation effort.

Each cygnet is weighed, each bird given a health check, and the data obtained supplied to scientists to monitor the swan population.

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