The arrival of winter, traditionally heralded by the migration of Siberian swans, has come early as 300 birds flock to Britain
By Lexi Finnigan
7:05PM BST 12 Oct 2015
Britain is facing its longest winter in 50 years after the earliest-ever arrival of a Siberian swan which traditionally heralds the start of the season.
Each year around 300 Bewick's swans migrate 2,500 miles from Arctic Russia to escape the approaching cold weather which follows closely behind them.
They flock to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reserve at Slimbridge, Glos, where their arrival has been recorded since 1963.
The first bird arrived on Sunday - a full 25 days earlier than last year and the earliest date on record.
It coincided with the first frosts of the autumn in the area and experts say its early return could be a sign of a long, hard winter ahead.
The premature arrival of winter in many European countries has encouraged Bewick's swans to flock westwards earlier than usual.
"Apparently there's a Russian saying that 'the swan brings snow on its bill', because they tend to move just ahead of the cold weather."
Swan expert Julia Newth
Temperatures are currently five to 10 degrees below average in parts of western Russia and eastern Europe and are expected to drop to the minus 30s.
Spurred on by bitter north easterly winds, many of the swans are currently gathering in the Netherlands, with 45 on Lake Gooimeer and 80 on Lake Lauwersmeer.