Published 1 June 2011

Swan Upping, the annual census of the swan population on the River Thames, was announced today by David Barber, The Queen’s Swan Marker.

This year’s Swan Upping will start on Monday 18th July departing from Sunbury and ends at Abingdon, Oxfordshire on Friday 22nd July.

The ceremony of Swan Upping dates from the twelfth century and takes place during the third week of July every year. In 2009 The Queen travelled up the River Thames to witness the historic ceremony for the first time.

It has always been the duty of the Sovereign’s Swan Marker to count the number of young cygnets each year and ensure that the swan population is maintained. With the assistance of The Queen’s Swan Warden, Professor Christopher Perrins of the University of Oxford, the swans and young cygnets are also assessed for any signs of injury or disease.

Announcing the dates for Swan Upping, David Barber reported:

“Another winter of severe weather has contributed to the death of many swans. Furthermore, a virus known as duck virus enteritis was discovered within the mute swan population on the River Thames. Unfortunately, more than 180 swans were found either dying or dead on the river between Reading and Windsor, with over 115 deaths being reported in the Windsor area alone. The virus is not uncommon in swans and it has also affected swans in other parts of the country, but this was the worst outbreak on the Thames we have seen in many years.

The dead swans included many of the Thames’ breeding pairs and we anticipate that fewer cygnets will be born this year as a result of the outbreak. We will have a greater understanding of the impact of the virus in July when Swan Upping takes place.

Vandalism remains a constant threat to swan numbers and is one of the primary causes of fatalities among mute swans and young cygnets. The number of vandal attacks has continued to increase over the past year which is extremely disappointing. Shootings by youths with air rifles and catapults cause horrific injuries, unnecessary suffering and slow deaths.

The Swan Marker and Swan Uppers will be meeting several schools during their five day journey up river during which we talk to the children about The Queen’s ownership of mute swans and the history associated with it. We also discuss the mute swan’s habitat and life cycle in a continuing attempt to raise their awareness of, and interest in, wildlife.”

Local schools seeking further information should contact the Swan Marker's office on +44 (0)1628 523030 or email [email protected].

Download a copy of the Swan Upping brochure by clicking here (PDF).

The observation points and times are as follows (all times given are approximate):

Monday 18th July 2011
Sunbury 09.00 - Departure point
Shepperton Lock 10.45
Penton Hook Lock 12.30
Romney Lock 17.30

Tuesday 19th July 2011
Eton Bridge 09.00 - Departure point
Boveney Lock 10.15
Boulters Lock 13.00
Marlow Lock 17.30

Wednesday 20th July 2011
Marlow Bridge 09.00 - Departure point
Hurley Lock 10.30
Hambleden Lock 12.00
Henley Town 13.30
Marsh Lock 16.00
Shiplake Lock 17.00
Sonning Bridge 18.00

Thursday 21st July 2011
Sonning-on-Thames 09.00 - Departure point
Caversham Lock 10.30
Mapledurham Lock 12.30
Goring Lock 17.00
Moulsford 18.00

Friday 22nd July 2011
Moulsford 09.00 - Departure point
Benson Lock 10.15
Clifton Hampden Bridge 13.00
Culham Lock 16.15
Abingdon Bridge 17.30

Press boat
The press boat will depart Shepperton Lock at 10.30 on Monday 18th July, Eton Bridge at 09.00 on Tuesday 19th July and Marlow Bridge at 09.00 on Wednesday 20th July. Media wishing to reserve a place to board the press boat should contact the Swan Marker's Office on +44 (0)1628 523030 or email [email protected].