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The Odyssey of the Bewick’s Swan 

The Bewick’s Swan Cygnus bewickii is the smallest swan species in the World. It is an Arctic breeding species typical of the tundra of Russia.
Weather conditions prevailing during the winter in the tundra does not allow an herbivorous bird like the Bewick’s Swan to stay all-year round close to its breeding site. It is a long distance migratory species. But not all Bewick’s are wintering in the same area. Three distinct zones are known for long, one centred on the North Sea, another in South East China and Japan and a third on the southern shores of the Caspian Sea.
Three wintering zones? Really? No! Since 1997, a new wintering zone has been established in the Evros Delta, between Greece and Turkey. At the cross-road of Europe, Asia and Africa, the Evros Delta is one of the most – if not the most – nature-rich coastal wetland of the Mediterranean. Since the beginning of the specific surveys, the flock has increased to 9000 Bewick’s Swans during February 2017. An incredible growth, an incredible sight! And a unusual event considering that we are the last years much more used to announce decline and extinction… Indeed, the numbers of Bewick’s Swan wintering in Northwest Europe have declined by a third in recent years. This subpopulation is now estimated to less than 21,000.
In order to participate to the understanding of these paradoxical – or not !- evolutions (decrease along the North Sea and increase in the Western Mediterranean) we have joined our effort to launch a program aiming to investigate the current migration routes of the Bewick’s Swan from the Russian Artic to their wintering grounds. Swans are thus ringed and a tagged with GPS devices on their breeding grounds in Russia but also on wintering sites in Belgium. We propose to share the resulting data with you throughout this web application!
Use the Time Manager to track them in increments of 5 days in the menu on the left. 

Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences & A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution (Russian Academy of Sciences ) in collaboration with the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences (Chinese Academy of Sciences), the Forest Research Institute (Hellenic National Agricultural Research Foundation), the Goose, Swan and Duck Study Group of Northern Eurasia, the Evros Delta Management Authority 

Didier Vangeluwe & Sonia Rozenfeld 

Didier.Vangeluwe (at) Rozenfeldbro (at) 



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