Saturday, November 26, 2016

Sanctuary on the Fleet: Abbotsbury Swannery, Dorset

Meet the majestic mute swans of Abbotsbury — more than 900 birds!

[Desktop / laptop computers: click any photo in this essay to see a large slide show of all images]

Abbotsbury Swannery is magical — a sanctuary for birds and humans. The grounds are peaceful in this one-of-a-kind place, and visitors are invited to walk amongst the birds, and even help feed them.

Established in the 11th century by Benedictine monks, with written records documenting the colony since 1393, the Swannery is located nine miles from Weymouth, on England's south coast. This is a terrific half-day out, tranquil and spiritual, much like visiting a church.

Most English swans are owned by the Crown. This colony is privately owned, and open to the public. The birds are well cared for and have the freedom to fly into the Fleet, Lyme Bay and Chesil Beach, and along the coast. Many do, but the majority of birds return to the Swannery for nesting each spring. The setting is ideal — a weather-protected lagoon, with shallow, salty water and adequate sources of food (grasses), not to mention attentive human caretakers.

Bring your binoculars — more than 300 different bird species large and small have been documented in the area. Wander the paths and listen to the chorus of songbirds at every turn.

Abbotsbury Swannery's website is HERE

Abbotsbury, England
October 2016
Photos by Emilie Pallos and Vic Pallos

Bird photography
Swans are on the move, especially at feeding time. They are curious and smart, so be patient and wait for the perfect moment. The birds will settle down, or take a leisurely swim. Some even pose for the camera!

Cygnets have grey plumage, and by October, are almost as large as their parents. They grow really fast.


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