Monday, July 16


The Queen's annual swan count began yesterday at Sunbury and the whole country is a-twitter. Passing through Berkshire to Abingdon in Oxfordshire, a boat of loyals (dressed in their scarlet uniforms) and children count, weigh and ring each bird while checking for signs of injury and disease. The ceremony dates from the 12th Century when the Crown claimed all unowned mute swans in Britain to ensure a ready supply for banquets and feasts. Nowadays, the Queen retains the right to ownership on some stretches of the River Thames and tributaries. For the record and the most recent data I could find, in 1991 there were 116 cygnets and in 1992 the total number of new cygnets marked was 136. There is as yet, no answer to the problem of those that are strangled by fishing lines. Photo from