Whooper swan romance has happy ending




A pair of Whooper swans have bred for the first time in Norfolk, thousands of kilometres from their normal breeding grounds.

Whooper swan and cygnets. Pic - Leigh Marshall WWT

Whooper swan and cygnets. Pic - Leigh Marshall WWT

Whooper swans pair for life, but a pair dubbed Romeo and Julietta, have surprised experts with a startling act of devotion.

This year, following an injury, Julietta (ringed DF9) was unable to fly the 1,800 kilometres from the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) reserve in Welney Norfolk, across the north Atlantic to Iceland.

Her partner Romeo (ringed DJ4) stayed behind to be with her and breed in the UK.

Each year some whooper swans like Julietta fail to join the annual migration back to Iceland as a result of injury often caused by power line collisions. But it is almost unheard of that an injury-free swan should stay behind to be with one that cannot migrate.

It is very rare for a pair to successfully breed in the UK. This is the first time ever that whooper swans have bred at WWT Welney and the first recorded breeding in Norfolk since 1928.

Sadly only one signet has survived so far. However, staff at WWT Welney are hopeful that all should be ok given that Whooper swaans are very protective with their young.

Leigh Marshall, reserve manager at WWT Welney said: “Though we love to see this pair throughout the summer, in many ways it is very sad that they’ve stayed in England, while the rest of their population has returned to Iceland to breed. We are really pleased for them that they’ve been able to hatch a brood, despite the odds being stacked against them with Julietta’s injury.

Sadly only one signet has survived the first few weeks. However, staff at WWT Welney are hopeful that all should be ok given that Whooper swans are very protective with their young.

Romeo and Julietta were ringed at WWT Welney in November 2007.

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