At eight miles long, the Fleet is the largest tidal
lagoon in the UK.
It's also home to a great wildlife spectacle - a swannery
where you can see the Mute Swans' annual moult.
to Abbotsbury for a fantastic feathered experience.|
can enjoy a fabulous Swan spectacle throughout the summer at the swannery which
lies at Fleet's western end.
The Swannery was created by Abbotsbury's
Benedictine Monks who built a monastery during the 1040's.
The monks farmed
the swans for their banquets, but the monastery was destroyed in 1539 during Henry
VIII's dissolution of the monasteries.
Since then the swannery has been
in the hands of the same family, and it's now a popular tourist attraction.
Swannery is the only place where you can walk through a colony of nesting Mute
Swans, our heaviest flying bird.
In mid summer the Swans begin their annual
It's a vulnerable time for these beautiful birds because when they
moult, they can't fly so they gather together for safety as they shed their feathers.
clever strategy of evolution is that the female Swans moult first.
males hang onto their feathers for longer so they can continue to protect their
And the feathers are even used by the Queen's bodyguards -
look out for them on the head-dresses of the Gentlemen at Arms.
the Swans are fed grain, it's the rich underwater food supply that keeps them
at Abbotsbury all year round.
Meadows of eel grass provide their staple
diet and the grass in turn creates a rich habitat for other marine life.
Fleet is of international importance for its aquatic life.
At one end
of the lagoon there are hundreds of Anemones and Sea Squirts.
Sea Squirt has two siphons - water is pumped in through one, sieved for food,
then pushed out through the second siphon.
There are also many different
types of crab which can be spotted.
spectacle of nature of a rather different kind is Chesil Beach and Bank.
is truly a natural wonder of the geological kind - its 17 mile-long 'Great Beach'
provides a natural barrier to the Fleet lagoon.
It is thought to have
been formed at the end of the last Ice Age when debris from landslides was pushed
along the coast from Devon as the ice melted and the sea levels rose.
it there would be no Swans, no Sea Bass nursery, and no lagoon.
fears that the Chesil Bank may one day be breached again, but at present its shelter
continues to guarantee the hatching and rearing of thousands of cygnets right
in front of your eyes.
Squirt copyright and courtesy of Natural England.
c/o Wildlfowl and Wetlands Trust.
Discover nature activities. Summer is a great
season to enjoy wildlife during long daylight hours.