One of the best and most popular family visitor attractions on the Dorset coast is Abbotsbury Swannery. Well worth a day out, there is something new to see for guests you and an old. Here is an update on what to expect during a visit in 2019!
The first cygnets of 2019 have hatched at Abbotsbury Swannery which can only mean one thing – summer is just around the corner. The Abbotsbury swans have established over 120 nests this year, and the sight of the newly-hatched cygnets in ‘Nest 4’ has delighted our visitors. All eggs hatch within a six-week period and we always look forward to the newly-hatched cygnets every spring.
About the swannery
The swannery is believed to be the only place in the world where visitors can walk through a colony of mute swans. You can get close-up to their nests and eggs to see the cygnets hatching just metres away. Visitors, particularly children, can also participate in the midday and afternoon feeds. Abbotsbury Tourism, who also runs the Children’s Farm and Subtropical Gardens, won the ‘Dorset Echo Industry Award for Best Contribution to Local Tourism’ a few years ago.
Cygnets at Abbotsbury Swannery
The swans lay an egg at two-day intervals (one can swan can lay anything from one to 12 eggs) and the incubation does not begin until the clutch is complete. This process ensures that all the eggs in the nest will hatch at the same time, 35 days after the final egg of the clutch has been laid. Towards the final days of the incubation period, the parents and cygnets make contact by calling to each other through the eggshell.
The swanherd and his staff feed the swans three times a day - the adults live on wheat and the cygnets initially survive on chick crumb (crushed pellets full of protein) and grass cuttings. Their parents also stir up natural foods such as algae and invertebrates from the bottom of their ponds and pull up vegetation for their young.
Visitors can walk safely among the nests while hundreds of baby swans are hatching out on to the paths. This tremendous spectacle is one of the highlights of the English summer and we thoroughly recommend a visit.
History of the swannery
Abbotsbury Swannery was established in the 11th-century by Benedictine monks, who farmed the swans for food. The swan population at Abbotsbury Swannery can double in size during the months of June and July when non-breeding swans from surrounding areas seek sanctuary as they become temporarily flightless due to the annual moult of their flight feathers. In November and December, the population triples when hundreds of other swans arrive to come to feed on the plentiful eelgrass growing further down The Fleet Lagoon.
To save money, buy tickets online before your visit to Abbotsbury Swannery, Gardens or Children's Farm – with even more savings if you buy a passport and visit all three attractions.
We have some lovely holiday cottages in around Abbotsbury. Why not visit our collection of properties to inspire your break to the Dorset Coast?