Butters: Butters is a particular fan of Denmark. She stops off there on both her spring and autumn migration. In fact, since she was first ringed in early Jan 2015, she has been spotted there three times. She likes to spend her summers in Vaigach in Arctic Russia. But as winter comes, she sets off on one of the longest migrations of any of our Bewick's. Rather than choosing the most direct route, Butters prefers to take her time, opting for the more scenic option, island hopping along the coast. Last year, Gotland, Sweden's largest island, was her chosen stop over. She's single, so could her frequent stops be providing her with opportunities for meeting potential partners?
Charlotte: Charlotte is another of our swans that likes to break up her long winter migration with lots of stop overs. Since we first tagged her on the Ouse Washes in 2015, she has been spotted taking a break to refuel in seven different countries, including Latvia, Germany and Sweden, where last year she was spotted with a mate, by one of our researchers. Last year she spent the winter months in Netherlands. Will she return again this year with a mate?
Daisy Clarke: Last year Daisy Clarke was spotted on the shores of the White Sea, taking a break before her final push to the summer breeding grounds in arctic Russia. She was using these “staging” grounds to replenish her food reserves and build herself up ready for the breeding season. What is it about the White Sea that makes it such an inviting staging post? Could it be the abundance of submerged water plants?
Eileen: She’s not named Eileen for nothing. On each migration since she was first tagged (by WWT’s swan guru Eileen Rees) we can be heard shouting ‘Come on Eileen!’ Eileen takes her time. She’s often the last to leave, but when she gets going there’s no stopping her! She flies one of the most direct routes of our tagged swans and spends little time on her stop-offs. Last year she covered a whopping 1,000km in just 24 hours. Will she arrive with a partner this year?
Hope: Hope is four years old, which is about the time Bewick’s start to breed. We're hoping that maybe this year she'll find a mate and even arrive with young in tow. If so, she and her young family have a challenging time ahead of them. With the arctic summers being so short, young Bewick's need to be ready to fly the 2,500 km journey home by the time they are only 12 weeks old.
Leho: Last winter Leho was the first of our tagged swans to reach the UK and we were really excited to see him, but then he did a curious thing. After a mini-tour of south-east England he did a spectacular U-turn and flew back out to sea, reaching a beach at Dunkirk six hours later. He then spent his winter in the Netherlands. Will he decide to stay in the UK this year?
Maisie: Maisie visits us at Slimbridge each year but she loves a good holiday in Estonia on the way. Lake Peipsi is her favoured destination and for good reason, it’s packed with wetland vegetation and undisturbed, safe roosting sites. For many of the Bewick’s Lake Peipsi will be their first stop-off after leaving the Russian arctic. It’s a flight of about 1,800km. When 2,000km is the furthest a swan can fly without refuelling what is it that makes them push themselves so hard to reach this particular spot?
Pola: Pola was named by school children in Poland. Although she was ringed in Norfolk in 2015, she hasn't returned to the UK since then. Last year she spent her winter in Schleswig Holstein in Germany, where Sacha will also be stopping over during her Flight of the Swan's expedition. What makes Bewick's decide where to spend their winters? Do they try a variety of different sites before settling on their final choice?
Zolotitsa: Bewick's tend to mate for life and so it was a real tragedy when Zolotitsa's mate Martina collided with a powerline in West Germany in February 2016 and died. And what makes it even worse, is that the pair had been seen during the previous spring migration with a cygnet. Will Zolotitsa be lucky in love again and return this year with a new mate?
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