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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  Viv Jones in Russia

Viv Jones in Russia

Tracking Bewick’s Swans

Viv Jones in Russia

In August, Professor Viv Jones spent two weeks in the remote Arctic Nenets Zapovednik (Nature reserve) in the Pechora Delta, one of the largest wetlands in Northern Europe. Accessible only by boat, the journey to it takes about 5 hours from the nearest town, Naryan Mar.

The area is an important summer breeding ground for migratory birds with important populations of waders, swans and geese.  One species, the Bewick’s Swan is of particular interest since birds migrate from the Russian tundra, across Europe to the UK, with wintering populations at reserves such as  WWT (Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust) Slimbridge.

The numbers of Bewick’s has fallen by about 30% since the 1990s, thought to be a result of climate change, increased hunting, wetland habitat loss and fatalities caused by power lines and wind turbines.

Last year their migration route was tracked by Sacha Dench, flying with the swans in a paramotor, supported by a land-team. This year the expedition’s aim was to complete the filming, monitor the Bewick’s and other swans, and characterise the lakes and wetlands.

Over 10 days, colleagues from the Nature Reserve and the WWT, helped by Viv,  PhD student Hannah Robson and the media team, rung and measured nearly 100 swans for biometrics such as weight.

Some of the birds had been previously sighted in Slimbridge and other wetlands on their migratory route, and one Dutch bird had been tagged with a GPS in the Arctic last year.

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Viv and friends


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