As part of our campaign to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the International Waterbird Census, we asked our partners to share their favourite images of wetlands and waterbirds. This month Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) tells us about their campaign “Flight of the Swans”, aiming to raise awareness and inspire conservation action for the Bewick’s Swan, a species recently listed as Endangered in Europe. Visit the Flight of the Swans website fots.wwt.org.uk to get involved.
#flightoftheswans is a campaign by #wwt following the migration of Bewick's Swans, a sub-species of Tundra Swans Cygnus columbianus. They can be found in patches of Western Europe and around the Black and Caspian Seas during the northern winter. Like Whooper Swans they have yellow and black bills, but the Bewick’s are smaller and have rounder yellow patches on their bills. Photo © WWT #IWC50 #waterbirdscount
Bewick’s Swans congregate in large numbers in quite a narrow breeding range across the Russian arctic and are dependent on relatively few stop-over sites during migration. This means threats at a few key sites can have a big impact. Photo © Nick Cottrell #WWT #flightoftheswans #IWC50 #waterbirdscount
There are a lot of reasons behind the decline in Bewick’s Swan, and different threats can be identified across the flyway. Even with strict protection status, illegal shooting still occurs in the breeding grounds and disturbance from hunting or other human activity is a major problem at stop-over sites. Poor feeding conditions at wintering or stop-over sites could also be a key driver behind the recent declines. Photo © Robert Evans #WWT #flightoftheswans #IWC50 #waterbirdscount
International co-operation and collaboration are essential for the conservation of Bewick’s Swans– activities in one country will have limited impact if threats and issues in the others aren’t addressed too. Linking the people, their work, and the sites along a 7,000 km flyway is perhaps the biggest challenge for the conservation of this species. Photo © Sacha Dench #WWT #flightoftheswans #IWC50 #waterbirdscount
Step forward Flight of the Swans. This will make those links quite literally. Sacha Dench, WWT’s Head of Media Production, will fly a paramotor along the length of the Bewick’s swan migration route in autumn 2016. She will emulate their feat – flying at the same speed and height as a swan, using the same sites they use, contending with the same conditions. Photo © #WWT #flightoftheswans #IWC50 #waterbirdscount
As part of the initiative, WWT will produce a community toolkit, to support local groups delivering wetland and conservation events, with tools, resources and guidance for sites anywhere in the flyway, that can be used for years to come. Photo © Sacha Dench #WWT #flightoftheswans #IWC50 #waterbirdscount
A hunting stakeholder workshop and will be used to identify solutions to reduce illegal shooting in their Arctic breeding grounds. This will involve talking to people from five far-flung communities in the remote Russian tundra to determine the motivations for illegal shooting. Photo © James Lees #WWT #flightoftheswans #IWC50 #waterbirdscount