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OUTDOORS
You are in: Berkshire > Outdoors > Thames Travelling > Stage 6
Geese
Canada geese and swans gather around the Wokingham Sailing Club building on the banks of the Thames as you leave Reading.
Thames Travelling
Look out for Swans, Canada Geese, Herons and Cormorants. All of them can be spotted on or near the Thames.
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Swans
Swans
Swans

The tradition of swan-upping started some 600 years ago, and it's basically the counting up of all the swans living on the Thames.

Centuries ago the swan was considered a culinary delight, but owning swans was a privilige initially restricted to the Crown who then extended ownership to two City Livery companies; The Company of Vintners and the Company of Dyers.

At one time any unauthorised person found guilty of killing a swan could be sentenced to transportation for seven years and even up to 1895 could receive seven years hard labour.

The Swan-upping ceremony developed as the means by which the Crown, the Vintners and the Dyers identified their particular swans.

For centuries the Vintners marked their birds by putting a nick on each side of the beaks, the Dyers putting one nick only, whilst the Crown's birds went unmarked. This practice is no longer continued. Instead the birds are marked by an identifying ring around their legs.

Swan-upping takes place along the Thames during the third week of July, starting on Monday at Sunbury and concluding at Abingdon on Friday.

It is organised by the Royal Swan Keeper, a position that dates from 1295.

Floatillas of boats move up the river looking for families of swans. Once caught, the swan is lifted onto dry land and examined to check its health. Each of the cygnets is marked with identifying tags on its legs. Then they are measured and weighed. Once every statistic has been recorded the family of swans are given a final check-over then released.

During the week they will mark and check between 70 - 90 cygnets and will update records on the numbers and well-being of the swan population as a whole.

For anyone interested in observing the spectacle, details of the swan-upping schedule can be obtained from the Environment Agency.

* info courtesy of http://www.the-river-thames.co.uk/

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bullet point What does that mean? - a natural history glossary
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