Striking Australian black swans pictured at River Stour

Two black swans were spotted at the River Stour in Manningtree, on the Essex/Suffolk border.

Two black swans were spotted at the River Stour in Manningtree, on the Essex/Suffolk border. - Credit: Teresa Wright

Two black swans which originate from Australia and are yet to become an established bird in the UK have been photographed along the River Stour in Manningtree. 

The pair were spotted amongst a group of white swans by Teresa Wright while she was on one of her first outings since the arrival of Covid-19. 

She said: "We had often seen white swans by the river, but never before have we seen black swans. They are beautiful.

"I enjoyed a trip out with my daughter Jess and beautiful granddaughter Margot and this was one of our first trips out due to Covid-19. It was such a perfect day."

Unlike the white mute swans we are used to seeing, black swans have black feathers and red beaks.

According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the black swans on the River Stour have been around for 10 years or so now in low numbers of between two and six birds at a time. 

They are native to Australia and are the state bird of Western Australia. 

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The RSPB said while they can't know for sure, they are thought to occasionally breed locally but haven't become an established bird. 

They were brought to the UK as ornamental birds like peacocks and golden pheasants.

Like many other captive birds, they occasionally find their way out into the wild - usually escaping from nearby collections, which is likely the case at the River Stour.

The RSPB said black swan sightings have become reasonably common, as these birds can be found on almost any water body.

They have similar habitat requirements to mute swans and are often found in the same areas.

In 2012, a study of bird populations in the British Isles found there were just 37 confirmed nesting pairs of black swans in the country.

Meanwhile, in Dawlish in Devon, the bird has become a symbol of the town.

On the ground, a group of black swans is called a bank. When flying in a group, they are called a wedge.

Black swans are vegetarians, using their metre long necks to reach down and eat algae and underwater weeds.

The black swan is listed under Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 with respect to England and Wales.

Under the act, it is an offence to release or allow the escape of this species into the wild.

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