Posted: 31.03.21 at 20:17 by Tim Lethaby
There is egg-citing news at the Bishop’s Palace in Wells, where the famous swans have laid eggs in their nest.
The pair, named Grace and Gabriel, became more popular than ever last year, when thousands of locked-down viewers tuned in daily to the palace’s 24-hour Swan Cam to catch a glimpse of the swans and their cygnets.
Last year, Grace decided to make her nest on an island in the middle of the Palace Moat, right next to a public footbridge.
Luckily, as the Gardens were closed due to lockdown, she was not disturbed in this location, but this year, palace staff were keen to encourage her to return to the safer location alongside the moat, by the palace’s office door.
The palace gardeners left some tempting foliage near this location, and the clever birds decided to construct their nest in the preferred spot.
The popular Swan Cam has now gone live on the palace website. With infra-red capability, the Swan Cam runs 24 hours a day and is trained on the nest.
Grace is thought to have laid at least six eggs in her nest and is settling down to incubate them over the next few weeks.
The incubation period usually lasts for around five weeks and fans of Swan Cam can compete to be the first to spot a cygnet emerging.
There is still one of last year’s cygnets on the moat, but it’s likely that he will be on his way soon. Dad, Gabriel, is certainly giving him a hard time and using what could be termed as very strong persuasion to encourage him to leave.
To watch Swan Cam, viewers can head to the home page of the Bishop’s Palace website, www.bishopspalace.org.uk, and scroll down to the “Latest Videos” section at the bottom.
The tradition of swans on the moat at the Bishop’s Palace in Wells is thought to go back to the 1850s when it is likely that a bishop’s daughter first taught the swans to ring a bell at the gatehouse for food.
There are now two swan bells - one just beneath the window on the left of the gatehouse, the other to the right - both with a rope hanging down for the swans to pull.
The palace welcomed a new swan pair to the palace moat in spring 2019, thanks to Swan Rescue South Wales.
The former swan pair, named Bryn and Wynn, were long-standing and much-loved, and sadly left in 2018.
Bryn, the cob, passed away in April 2018, and Wynn, the pen, departed from the moat, along with her four remaining cygnets, in October 2018.
It is thought that the family group headed off to the Somerset Levels, a popular site for groups of swans. Wynn returned to the moat for a brief period in January 2019, before leaving again.