The frozen circle of Whooper life

The frozen circle of a Whooper’s life

A film by Grant Norman

Words, narration, and incidental music by 雷竞技官网

Each winter, they arrive in their thousands. White, winter visitors flying in from the frozen north. Most will have come from their breeding grounds in Iceland. They navigation the east coast and sight land in North Norfolk. They will keep flying to their usual splashing grounds at Welney. The Whooper Swan.

The vast squadrons roost overnight on the waters, safe from foxes and other landlocked predators. When dawn breaks, they head for the fields. Where they will hoover up the green-top residues of beet and potato harvests. Before returning to their watery roosts each dusk.

In late 2020, the farmland around Welney and the Ouse Washes were floodier and floodier. The Whoopers were compelled to spread their wings and search farther afield. However, by January almost as soon as Fen Bridge Farm had harvested their sugarbeet. Several dozen arrived. The numbers have grown and grown.

Everyone in the village is asking everyone else about the honking and whooping. Is it geese? What are those birds? It’s amazing to see when you catch sight of them from the Lode or Les King Wood. By the end of January, almost 500 were on the flooded field there. Most of the greentops seem to have been purged from the land.They will most likely soon move on…to “pastures” new, although it’s worth noting that some are not even flying to roost these last two or three evenings, preferring to stay on the flooded farm at the edge of Cottenham.

We will have to wait and see whether they return to our Fen Edge Patch next winter. It will all depend on the flooding and the farming. Before the spring arrives though, this year’s birds will depart. Heading back to the frozen north for the next round in the circle of a Whooper’s life.


UPDATE: Numbers have been falling over the last few days. There were only four Whoopers on the frozen flood patch at the farm when we walked past today. They bobbed their heads and took flight as we walked past. Be interesting to know whether that’s the end of them on our fen edge patch for this year. It could well be…