Annual Royal 'Swan-Upping' takes place on River Thames

Mon Jul 18, 2016 7:22pm EDT
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(Reuters) - A census of the Queen's swans has taken place annually on the River Thames for the last 800 years.

On Monday, a group of Boats led by the Queen's Swan Marker continued the tradition, known as "Swan Upping."

"We go up the river in six traditional rowing skiffs - every family of swans we come across, we will take them out of the water, we will take them a shore. We will weigh them, measure them and check them for any injuries," The Queen's royal Swan Marker, David Barber told Reuters.

Cygnets are individually tagged, as part of conservation efforts to protect the young birds.

"A lot of the injuries we get these days is through fishing tackle. When the cygnets are very young, they get caught in fishing tackle quite easily," Barber added.

Dressed in their traditional livery, the teams use six traditional Thames rowing skiffs, each flying their flags and pennants.

It takes them five days to cover the stretch of the Thames between Sunbury near London out to Abingdon near Oxford.

They count all the adult swans and tag and monitor the health of cygnets by weighing them and checking in their mouths.

The river can be a dangerous place for the young swans, at risk from fishing hooks and wire.   Continued...

A cygnet, or young swan, is restrained whilst being examined during Swan Upping. REUTERS/Toby Melville