Sunday, 2 August 2009

Whooper Swan expedition 2009

For many years the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust have held annual ringing expeditions to Iceland in order to catch and ring breeding/moulting Whooper Swans. This is something that has been happening since around 1988.

Catching Whoopers in Iceland is very different from catching them back at WWT reserves in the winter. At our centres we use special designed swan pipes and entice the swans into the pipe with food, before a lever is pulled - trapping the birds.

However whilst the Whoopers undergo their annual moult in Iceland (making them unable to fly), this allows us to deploy zodiac boats onto ponds and lakes and armed with swan hooks we can catch breeding pairs + their cygnets and non breeding adults.

But it's not always that easy and at times we often find ourselves stripping off and getting into the water (which when it's a cold Icelandic day - can be quite an experience!!) The other method of catchment is when a pair with cygnets are out feeding on the marshes. In order to catch them, a team of us run across the marsh with swan hooks and after a little run around we often catch them all.

As part of an ongoing project, back in the UK WWT have been fitting satellite transmitters to swans to follow their migration routes to and from Iceland. A further 10 transmitters have been fitted to birds this year on their summering grounds and we´re hoping to be able to follow these back to the UK on Autumn migration.

Over the last week we´ve caught 250+ Whooper Swans at various locations in northen Iceland.


  1. Hello there,

    I'm ringer from Croatia. Where do you get this "wests" for swans?

    thanx in advance


    luka.jurinovic (at)

  2. Hi.
    Some of how rings swans I Norway have exact the same question!
    Amazing to se you catches more than one at a time.


  3. Hi Carsten,

    Thanks for your post.

    We, at WWT make our own swan jackets/vests from a plastic material with Velcro stitched on the sides - to allow the jacket to be wrapped and stuck together - keeping the birds wings in.

    If you drop me your e-mail address to kane.brides''@'' replace the ''@'' with a @ and I will send you a copy of the diagram.

    We managed to catch both adults in a boat with a swan hook - whilst they were flightless.

    Best wishes