Swan Upping 2019

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Queen attends annual Swan Upping
Queen Elizabeth II with Swan Warden Professor Christopher Perrins (front left) and her team of Swan Uppers lead by Swan Marker David Barber (front right) at Oakley Court.

Swan Upping 2019

Swan Upping, the annual census of the swan population on the River Thames, has been announced by The Queen’s Swan Marker, David Barber.

This year, Swan Upping will begin on Monday 15th July, departing from Sunbury lock cut and will finish at Abingdon Bridge, Oxfordshire on Friday 19th July.

Announcing the schedule for Swan Upping, David Barber said:

“I am pleased to see that the breeding season has begun very well this year with a high level of nesting activity on the river.

We are delighted that so many members of the public keep a watchful eye on the swans although sadly there continues to be an increasing incidence of nests destroyed and adult swans and their cygnets killed as a result of dog attacks. We again urge members of the public to keep their dogs on a lead and under control in the vicinity of nesting swans and other infant wildlife when walking along the river bank or near lakes.

There will be many schools visiting Swan Upping once again this year as we continue to encourage the education of children about swan welfare, the river, the traditional boats we use and the impact of human activity on our wildlife.”

Local schools seeking further information about Swan Upping week should contact the Swan Marker’s office on 01628 523030 or email info@royalswan.co.uk.

The observation points and times are as follows (all times given are approximate):

Monday 15th July 2019

Sunbury 09.00 – Departure point
Shepperton Lock 10.15
Penton Hook Lock 12.30
Romney Lock 17.30

Tuesday 16th July 2019

Eton Bridge 08.30 – Departure point
Boveney Lock 09.15
Boulters Lock 12.30
Cookham Bridge 13.30
Marlow Lock 17.30

Wednesday 17th July 2019

Marlow Bridge 09.00 – Departure point
Hurley Lock 10.30
Hambleden Lock 12.00
Henley Town 13.15
Marsh Lock 15.30
Shiplake Lock 17.00
Sonning Bridge 18.00

Thursday 18th July 2019

Sonning-on-Thames 09.00 – Departure point
Caversham Lock 10.15
Mapledurham Lock 12.00
Goring Lock 17.00
Moulsford 18.00

Friday 19th July 2019

Moulsford 09.00 – Departure point
Benson Lock 10.00
Clifton Hampden Bridge 13.00
Culham Lock 16.15
Abingdon Bridge 17.00

The ceremony of Swan Upping takes place during the third week of July every year. Swan Upping dates from the twelfth century, when The Crown claimed ownership of all mute swans which were considered an important food for banquets and feasts. Today The Crown retains the right of ownership of all unmarked mute swans in open water, but The Queen mainly exercises this right on certain stretches of the River Thames and its surrounding tributaries. This ownership is shared with the Vintners’ and Dyers’ Livery Companies who were granted rights of ownership by The Crown in the fifteenth century.

The Queen’s Swan Marker and the accompanying Swan Uppers of the Vintners’ and Dyers’ Livery Companies use six traditional Thames rowing skiffs in their five-day journey upstream to Abingdon. By tradition scarlet uniforms are worn by The Queen’s Swan Marker and Swan Uppers, and each boat flies the appropriate flag and pennant. In recent years, both Her Majesty The Queen and Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal have travelled up the River Thames to witness the historic ceremony.

It has always been the duty of the Sovereign’s Swan Marker to count the number of young cygnets each year and ensure that the swan population is maintained. The cygnets are weighed and measured to obtain estimates of growth rates and the birds are examined for any sign of injury, commonly caused by fishing hook and line. With the assistance of The Queen’s Swan Warden, Professor Christopher Perrins of the University of Oxford, the swans and young cygnets are also assessed for any signs of disease. The cygnets are ringed with individual identification numbers by The Queen’s Swan WardenThe Queen’s Swan Marker produces an annual report after Swan Upping detailing the number of swans, broods and cygnets counted during the week.

The Queen’s Swan Marker also advises organisations across the country about swan welfare, gives presentations to local schools and charities, and monitors the health of the local swan population. The Queen’s Swan Marker works closely with swan rescue organisations, supervises the rescue of sick and injured swans and advises fishing and boating organisations about how to work with wildlife.

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