Flanders Moss NNR
The last post was about the migrating geese that are feeding on the fields around Flanders. But mixed in with the geese and unmissable are the whooper swans. These big white swans are different from our more regularly seen and resident mute swans by having black and yellow bills and by breeding in Iceland but travelling south in the autumn to spend the winter in the UK where it is milder and there is plentiful food available.
About 5000 birds spend parts of the winter in Scotland but it seems that they are spending less time in their stop off before heading south. Changing farming practices which leave less stubble available to wildlife over the winter means that there is less food available and therefore the birds stop briefly and then keep going. These whooper swans in a field next to Flanders were on a stubble fields and it was fun watching them step very carefully with their big webbed feet in the prickly stubble.
They travel in much smaller groups, usually as families and you can see the adults in their pure white plumage and this years youngsters in their grey colour and without the bright yellow on the bill.