Comparisons of 16 Whooper Swans on Scillies in 2009, 2012, 2014 and 2017

All photographs copyright Paul Gale Bird Photography

Whooper swans live for many years, pair for life and migrate each and every year, typically to the same wintering grounds (e.g. Caerlaverock WWT in South west Scotland and Welney WWT on the Ouse Washes). Individual adult Whooper swans can be distinguished by the patterns on their bills. One use of digital photography is to compare individuals. Here the bill patterns of the six adult birds on St Agnes in 2009 are compared with those of the eight adult birds on St Mary's in 2012. In Ocotber 2014 there were two Whooper swans on Tresco Great Pool. The fourteen birds are clearly different individuals, while two show some similarity in terms of asymmetry of the pattern. These two  birds are directly compared below. The bill patterns are sufficiently different to conclude that all sixteen birds are different individuals. This is consistent with my hypothesis that Whooper swans seen in October on the Scillies represent small flocks of birds off course from their regular wintering ground rather than birds on a regular migration route.

The single adult (with three cygnets) on Bryher in 2017 was also different.

Whooper Swan 3 2009

Whooper Swan 5 2012



Whooper Swan 1 2009

Whooper Swan 2 2009

Whooper Swan 3 2009

Whooper Swan 4 2009

Whooper Swan 5 2009

Whooper Swan 6 2009



Whooper Swan 1 2012 Whooper Swan 2 2012 Whooper Swan 3 2012
Whooper Swan 4 Whooper Swan 5 2012 Whooper Swan 6 2012
Whooper Swan 7 2012 Whooper Swan 8 2012 Whooper Swan 9 2012


October 2014

Whooper Swans on Tresco Great Pool

Whooper 1, 2014 Whooper swan 2, 2014

Single adult and three juveniles on Bryher, 2017

Adult Whooper Swan 2017


Scillies All Years

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