Swans set up home by a main road

As a wildlife maternity ward it hardly seems the ideal tranquil spot - but a pair of swans nesting within feet of a busy coast road seem totally unruffled.

As a wildlife maternity ward it hardly seems the ideal tranquil spot - but a pair of swans nesting within feet of a busy coast road seem totally unruffled.

The regal white birds are not the first set of migrants to be drawn to the stunning scenery of the north Norfolk coast in search of a home.

But visitors to the Cley bird reserve, and its long-standing warden, have been amazed that the mute swans have settled just a yard away from the A149, now getting busy with holiday traffic including cars, caravans and buses.

Police have put up special signs at the spot to urge drivers to slow down and steer clear as they pass within inches of the birds on a clutch of up to half a dozen eggs.


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Warden Bernard Bishop said: 'They had 800 acres of marsh to pick from, and they have nested right next to the road. I have never seen anything like it in 40 years here.

'The real worry is when the cygnets hatch in a few weeks and wander on to the road - it could be chaos. But all we can do is put out the signs and warn people.'

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Mr Bishop said swans regularly nested on the marsh, but normally well away from the traffic. The roadside pair were close to water and marsh for feeding and swimming.

But following concerns, including some expressed by worried visitors to the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve, he called police wildlife crime officer PC Jason Pegden, based at Wells, for help.

He put up police slow signs and cones, and had a special laminated 'police aware- swan nesting' sign made.

'The birds seem unperturbed by the traffic going past, but the male is very protective if people walk near the site. We just want drivers and walkers to be aware and stay aware so the birds are not driven off the nest, and the cygnets not harmed.'

The combination of nesting birds and more people going out to enjoy the countryside also sparked a timely warning for the public to help protect rare species.

The law bans wild bird egg collecting - which has been a problem among avocet nests at Cley in the past - but also the disturbing of nests that are home to protected birds such as little terns, which happens with dog walkers at Blakeney Point.

So walkers are asked to be vigilant to ensure their own actions do not upset wildlife, and to report any suspicious activities to the police, by calling 0845 456 4567.

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