Take a stroll to your local pond or river, and look at the swans there. In particular look at the beak. You will see it has orange markings. This identifies the Mute Swan. The Whooper Swans are identified by their YELLOW bill markings in the shape of a triangle.
When you sponsor a swan you get a lovely information pack from the WWT. This gives lots of really interesting data about the Whooper Swans, some of which I shall put on my blog.
All swans pair for life and start to breed when they are around 4 - 7 years old.They lay 4-5 eggs out of which approximatley 2 - 3 hatch. This makes Doon and Balfron's rearing all 5 cygnets successfully a great achievement. The cygnets stay with them all winter and sometimes cygnets from previous years will also join them.
There are 5 populations of Whooper Swan, with the Iceland population overwintering in the UK and Ireland, although a small percentage remain in Iceland all year.
Around 12,000 Whoopers migrate to UK every winter with around 300 arriving at Caerlaverock.
Whoopers have been recorded flying at heights of 27,000 feet, where air temperature is as low as -48 centigrade.
Migrating Whoopers can reach flying speeds of 100 mph or more and can reach Ireland from Iceland in 7 hours! WOW! That is some achievement.
When you read this data of the family life of these graceful beings, and their brave and arduous annual migrations, it makes one wonder why human beings feel they can go out and shoot at them. X-rays have shown that approximately 15% of the swans contain lead shot from illegal shooting.