The first baby swans of 2017 have hatched at Abbotsbury Swannery – a welcome sign that summer can’t be far away.
Legend has it that the arrival of the first cygnet at Abbotsbury heralds the start of summer.
This year there are around 100 nests at Abbotsbury, which means hundreds of the fluffy youngsters emerging over the next six weeks.
The sight of the newly-hatched baby swans has delighted staff at the Swannery, which saw an outbreak of bird flu in January.
Swanherd Steve Groves said: “It has been wonderful to see such a good number of pairs nesting.
“It was largely the younger birds which were affected by avian flu, so the number of breeding pairs have been relatively unaffected.
“The swans usually mate for life and we get to know each couple.
With 100 nests and an average of six eggs to a nest, there will soon be cygnets everywhere!”
The Swannery is the only place in the world where visitors can walk through a colony of mute swans, see cygnets hatching and learning to swim and participate in mass feedings.
The swans lay their eggs at two day intervals and hatching takes place 35 days after the final egg of the clutch has been laid.
Swanherds feed the adult swans twice a day on wheat grains while the cygnets are fed three times daily on chick crumb, a crushed pellet full of protein. Their parents also feed the cygnets algae, other vegetation and grubs.
Visitors can walk safely among the nests while hundreds of baby swans are hatching out on to the paths. This tremendous spectacle is one of the highlights of the English summer. For more information visit www.abbotsbury-tourism.co.uk/swannery