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Oddly Enough

England’s annual swan count begins

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - 01:16

Swan Upping, the annual census of the swan population on stretches of the River Thames, gets underway. Tara Cleary reports.

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It's centuries old and it happens once a year - the pageantry of the swan census on the River Thames. English royalty claims ownership of all unmarked swans in open water - and so the birds are counted. Called swan upping, it involves a flotilla of six rowing boats headed by the swan marker to the Queen, David Barber. SOUNDBITE: David Barber, swan marker to HM the Queen, saying (English): "Each family we come across there with the young cygnets we lift out of the water, we will measure them, we will weigh them, check them for any injuries." Swans were once considered a tasty dish, but now counting helps to protect them. And according to Barber, their numbers may have dwindled this year. SOUNDBITE: David Barber, swan marker to HM the Queen, saying (English): "Vandalism is quite serious so we have many shootings and dog attacks, that's why swans this year we feel have been a little bit less than other years." The team takes five days to complete its royal mission. And when passing Windsor Castle, after a job well done, there's the all-important toast to the Queen.

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England’s annual swan count begins

Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - 01:16