Swans' arrival hints at harsh winter

20th October, 2015

Forecasters are warning that this winter could be the coldest in 50 years and the predictions have been backed up by an old folk legend. The arrival of Bewick’s swans at Welney Wetlands Centre in Norfolk traditionally signals the start of winter and this year is the earliest they’ve ever come to stay.

Arriving two weeks earlier than last year, the Siberian swans migrate west every year, away from the cold weather of northern Europe and the Arctic. The winter follows them, prompting the Russian saying ‘the swan brings snow on its bill’.

Welney Wetlands Centre provides the ideal habitat for Bewick’s swans and up to 5,000 of them spend the winter there. Over the last twenty years the population of Bewick’s swans has almost halved, from 30,000 to 17,000. Scientists believe this could be down to changing weather patterns in the Arctic, making Welney Wetlands Centre vital for the survival of the species.

The early arrival of the swans isn’t the only folk legend heralding a harsh winter. Holly trees and blackberry bushes are full of fruit, leaves are still on the trees and spiders are entering houses in greater numbers than usual.

Speaking to the Eastern Daily Press, head of nature reserves at Norfolk Wildlife Trust, John Milton, said that wildlife is not always an indicator of seasonal trends:

“Some birds from the north such as Whooper swans are turning up early and fruits such as blackberries are having a bumper year, but these signs are as much to do with current weather patterns rather than predicting some trend months ahead. We have had a succession of relatively mild winters and some would say we are overdue a more severe winter. It would appear that climate change in the UK will lead on average to milder winters but also greater variation.”

The last time the Bewick’s swans arrived early in Welney was 2010, when we had the coldest December on record. And with forecasters issuing early weather warnings for freak harsh conditions this winter, it’s worth paying attention to the signs. Throughout the UK, businesses and local authorities are getting ready for winter – don’t pay the price of being unprepared.

To find out how Ice Watch can help protect your business this winter, call us now on 01728 633900.

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