The Strange Adventures of Leho!

Ever since Leho was caught and fitted with a transmitter in Norfolk last winter, we have been carefully following his long journeys to and from the Russian arctic.

Up until now, his autumn migration had taken him on a rather typical route through the Baltic states, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands. We were very excited when we saw Leho poised for the Channel crossing and he became the first transmitter swan of the winter to finally reach British shores. But it turned out his stay was short-lived!

His mini-tour of south-east England took him to the River Medway, Walland Marshes in Kent and then to Dengie National Nature Reserve on the east coast. To our surprise he then flew back out to sea, arriving on the beach at Dunkirk six hours later. It wasn’t long before Leho was back in the Netherlands where he has remained ever since. In fact, he has been spotted with a flock of 43 swans in north Friesland by Dutch ornithologist Wim Tijsen. The reasons for Leho’s return journey to the continent remains a mystery.

Occasionally swans undertake a ‘reverse migration’ when weather conditions deteriorate but this usually happens on spring migration when they come face to face with bitter conditions further east. Perhaps Leho has lost a mate on his way and has returned to look for her. I suppose we may never know but we are certainly intrigued about where his journey takes him next……
The mild weather has temporarily stalled migration, although many Bewick’s have now arrived in Germany and the Netherlands with over 2,750 now on Lake Veluwemeer (W. Tijsen). We are looking forward to a cool north-easterly breeze which will nudge them across the sea to join the 12 currently at Slimbridge and the 40 or so at Welney.

Julia Newth