Flight to save the Bewick swan

A Banburyshire volunteer is taking part in a ground-breaking expedition to raise awareness about the declining numbers of swans.

Tuesday, 1st November 2016, 9:40 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 4:02 pm
Ben Cherry from Tysoe with Sacha Dench from the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, who are both taking part in Flight of the Swans

Ben Cherry from Tysoe has joined the Flight of the Swans expedition as part of the media and ground crew.

Flight of the Swans is a project which is following the migration patterns of the Bewick swans to establish why their numbers are in rapid decline.

Sacha Dench, from the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, is flying the same route as the swans with a paramotor (a powered paraglider) strapped to her back, from their remote feeding grounds in Russia’s Arctic north back to Slimbridge in Gloucestershire.

The migration is a 4,500 mile journey that stretches across 11 countries.

Mr Cherry, who is a former a head boy at Kineton High School, applied for the position a few months ago, when the Flight of the Swans’ teams were looking for volunteers for the trip.

He then took part in a rigorous selection process with 11 other shortlisted candidates.

Mr Cherry said: “Flight of the Swans is a fascinating project to be part of, where WWT is seeking to engage and inspire as wide a public audience as possible to raise awareness for the declining numbers of Bewick’s swans.

“This state-of-the-art expedition is connecting with people along the flyway, as well as creating a natural history documentary to highlight the threats posed to this international migration.

“I’m hoping that this project will act as a springboard to launch me into a conservation communications career.”

Mr Cherry is an environmental photojournalist and zoologist who is also passionate about conservation and the natural world, preferring the great outdoors to the classroom or office.

The former Kineton student also recently won the Royal Meteorological Society’s Weather Photographer of Year 2016 Competition with a picture of a sprite lightning strike, which is a very rare phenomenon.

In planning for the event Mr Cherry met and photographed polar explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, a patron of the project and Anton Bowring, another member of the original Transglobe Expedition team.

They both described the Flight of the Swans expedition as “mad but marvellous.”

Mr Bowring said: “Not only it is an intrepid project in terms of the amazing human endeavour it will take, but the conservation benefits of the Bewick’s swan will be enormous too.”

To track Ms Dench, the team and the Bewick swan’s migration patterns click here.