Six swans (five Bewick's and one whooper) from Arctic Russia were satellite tagged to track their annual winter migration. It was hoped they would all return to Britain. This is what happened to them in the autumn and winter of 2003.
The BBC/Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust team started to monitor the birds in early October. It was a slow start, as the mildest autumn in 20 years delayed the beginning of the migration. The birds took advantage of the warm winds to stay put and feed for longer.
Eventually they got underway, and this is their story.
Bewick's swan 12J, known as Kostya.
This swan caused excitement and worry in equal measure throughout his migration. He was the first to leave the Pechora Delta in Arctic Russia on the 14th October, and had reached Archangel on the 16th October. He then made slow progress to Estonia and rested at Lake Peipus on the 17th October.
By the 27th October the team of biologists tracking 12J were concerned as the transmitter stopped sending location signals. Russian ornithologists went out to search the Russian shores of Lake Peipus but Kostya was not found. He was assumed dead, probably shot by hunters over Estonia.
However, on the 24th November Kostya was spotted alive and well in the Netherlands. He hadn't been shot, but he had shed his transmitter.
Finally on 27th January 2004 Kostya was spotted in Welney, Norfolk. He had made it to England! The team were expecting all of the Bewick's swans to arrive at Welney in November 2003. In the end, only Kostya arrived - 2 months late!
Bewick's swan 11D, known as Andrei.
With the temperatures hovering around freezing on the Pechora Delta, Andrei moved out on the 19th October, and followed a similar route to Kostya, arriving at Lake Peipus on or around the 21st October. He left there on the 9th November and flew to the coast of Sjaelland in Denmark. He then settled, on the 13th November in the vicinity of Esbjerg.
After a few signals from his transmitter showing he was hopping between the North Sea and Denmark, we lost track of him. So, as far as we know, Denmark was his final destination.
Whooper swan HUC, known as Huck.
Placing a transmitter on Huck the whooper swan was a bit of a gamble as very little is known about their migration route. He left the Pechora Delta on the 21st October and headed south-west, prompting our team to think he may be a Baltic-wintering bird. He was then located 40km south east of Archangel on the 23rd October.
The next signal placed Huck 50km from the Finnish border on the 29th October, and after that he rested on Lake Ladoga for several days.
On the 9th November Huck was 100km east of Helsinki, and then he settled near Kouvola, in Southern Finland. On the next leg of his journey Huck flew to Estonia, then across Sweden, and was located at its southern tip on the 19th December. His final signal, in January 2004 showed he was near the south-east coast of Sweden.
Bewick's swan 12D, known as Anatoli.
The transmitters on all of the swans proved to be unreliable at times. In the case of Anatoli, his transmitter reprogrammed itself and only sent signals at 3 day intervals. The team could not tell when he left the Pechora Delta, but did discover he arrived at Lake Peipus on the Russian/Estonian border on the 23rd October. Lake Peipus is a bit like a service station for migrating birds, allowing them to refuel and rest before the next leg of their journey.
Anatoli was next located near Riga on the 26th October and then heading west on the 29th October. Finally, he had progressed to the south-east corner of the Baltic on the 2nd January 2004.
Bewick's swans 13A, known as Pechora and 14U, known as Alexie.
Unfortunately, the transmitters attached to these swans did not leave the Pechora Delta. We do not know why. It could have been because the transmitters fell off, or that the swans were killed by a predator such as the Arctic fox.
Follow each bird's story as it happened.