December 17, 2021 6.00 am This story is over 23 months old

University call for help to protect Lincoln’s swans

The Lincoln Swan Project needs public support

The University of Lincoln is calling on local residents to support their efforts and research to grow and protect the city’s iconic swan population.

The university has been working to develop positive approaches to creating a sustainable and environmentally friendly campus, with the Brayford swan population a top priority.

Historically, large juvenile groups of mute swans overwintered on the Brayford. In a bid to monitor the movements, breeding, and survival of the city’s swan population, the Lincoln Swan Project has encouraged public support.

The Lincoln Swan Project has tagged swans with yellow rings, each with a unique code to help identify individual birds. The four-digit code on the rings can be reported through the app, along with information about where they were sighted.

A total of 253 swans within a 10km radius in Lincoln city centre have been ringed so far, and during the annual family round-up in August the research team caught 12 families of swans, as well as two pairs without cygnets – 64 birds in total.

One of Lincoln’s majestic swans. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

People from all over Lincolnshire have been collecting information about swans using a data-gathering app called Epicollect5, which helps monitor the swan community. The Lincoln Swan project is now appealing for more people to use the app.

The app allows the wider community to report when and where they see swans, along with any breeding data – see more information here. So far, over 2,800 sightings have been logged since the app launched in May 2020.

Brood sizes this year were smaller than in previous years with data submitted through the app clarifying the timeframe when pairs lost cygnets. It also monitors clutch size, hatching success and how the families use the habitat within their territories.

The data collected has formed a basis for understanding how the swans use the waterways in and around Lincoln, as well as analysing the dispersal of juvenile swans from their natal territories.

The swans have been spotted around the East Midlands with some being spotted in North Yorkshire, and even as far away as Cheshire.

The ‘Swan Project’ App helps to monitor the movement, breeding success and survival of Lincoln’s iconic swan population. | Photo: Emily Simpkins

Meanwhile, surveys will be carried out by Postgraduate students in the new year to gain a better understanding of and to improve public engagement in the project.

Dr Jenny Dunn, Senior Lecturer in Animal Health and Disease at the University of Lincoln, said: “The Lincoln Swan project, on the Epicollect5 App, is helping us form a picture of how swans use the waterways in and around Lincoln, not just on the Brayford.

“We have so far had more than 2,800 sightings reported to us, but we have surprisingly few reported sightings of birds in the centre of Lincoln. If you see swans in and around Lincoln, please register to use the App at and report your sightings to us.”