Vicious attacks on swans and their nests at an all time high

Vicious attacks on helpless cygnets’ nests along the Thames have been described by the Queen’s royal swan marker David Barber as the worst he has known in his 27 years in the job.

The shootings seem to be a horrifying product of the Coronavirus lockdown – having spiralled since March.

Mr Barber is responsible for the health and safety of the Queen’s swans and leads his team of on the annual ‘swan upping’ trips along the river every year to check for injured birds, weighing them and confirming their numbers.

This year it has had to be cancelled because of Coronavirus but Mr Barber fears the swan population is being decimated by bored and irresponsible airgun owners.

He said: “The violence against the swan population is the worst I have seen.

“Swans form a community, build a nest, sit on their eggs for 35 days. The eggs all hatch together – only to be shot by vandals.

“They are going out with airguns and catapaults, see a white target and just shoot. Wildlife on he river has enough problems without people attacking them like this.

“We will have to wait until next year to see how much damage has been done.”

Treatment and rescue co-ordinator for Swan Support charity Wendy Hermon is at the forefront of the fight back – as she and her her team struggle to reach and rescue injured swans to treat at their Datchet centre.

She has been rescuing swans for 30 years and has never known it to be so bad.

She says the problem is particularly bad in Windsor, Slough and Langley around the Thames and the canal.

But she said: “We have gone as far as Wiltshire, Hampshire, Newbury and Thatcham. Some days we have to rescue as many as 10 injured swans.

“It has been going on since the start of lockdown in March. We are having to do as many as 10 rescues a day.We have had as many as many as 60 injured swans here.

“I just don’t understand the mentality of people who do things like this. From doing this to birds or animals it’s only a short step towards doing it to people.”

Royal Borough Observer | News WIndsor