The Lincoln Swan project


The Lincoln Swan project

Mute swans (scientific name: Cygnus olor) are an important symbol of the city of Lincoln, dating back to the rebuilding of Lincoln cathedral in 1185. Historically, large juvenile groups would over-winter on the Brayford, but recent surveys suggest that these numbers are declining. Many environmental factors may drive this apparent decline, such as a decreased food availability, aggression aggression between swans for territory, or fishing lines or lead weights in the waterways leading to either a reduction in survival of adult or juvenile swans, or the desertion of young swans from the centre of the city to more suitable territories. 

In 2017 we started a programme of colour ringing swans on the waterways in and around Lincoln, funded by the University of Lincoln and with assistance from Kane Brides of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, and Dan Sidley of the Yorkshire Swan and Wildlife Rescue Hospital. Each swan has a BTO metal ring on one leg, and a yellow plastic ring on the other (see photo below) with the letter L (or Y) followed by three numbers. We have now ringed over 250 swans in and around Lincoln and are starting to get some great data on resightings. 

In 2020, we developed a community science project using a phone App to allow members of the public to register with the project and submit their swan sightings (see here: http://lncn.ac/swanproject).  

If you see any of these swans, any sightings are really valuable – please register and download the App, or e-mail your sighting to swanrings@lincoln.ac.uk and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can to let you know where and when your swan was originally caught and ringed. Our colour ringing programme is ongoing, and the swans have a twitter account @LincolnSwans