Each spring The Parks Trust receive a high number of enquiries from people regarding swan nests in Milton Keynes. The most common concern is that nests are being disturbed by dogs and their walkers, particularly near Willen Lake.
Most swan pairs have now begun to build their nests and some are already sitting on eggs. Swans’ nests, in common with all other native birds, are fully protected under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act. It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly destroy any nests, eggs or nestlings.
Those who walk dogs should be extra vigilant and if they’re aware of a nesting swan, dogs must be kept on a short lead as they approach and pass the nest. The Parks Trust does not have the resources to fence off or protect the nests of swans or other bird’s nests. Occasionally, the Trust may erect temporary plastic fencing until the birds have fledged.
Martin Kincaid, Biodiversity Officer for The Parks Trust, said: “This is a wonderful time of year for spotting birds, animals and other wildlife with their young, and swans are no exception. However, we would like to remind all those who use our parks to be extra careful in areas where swans are likely to nest.
“It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly damage a bird’s nest or eggs and under no circumstances should anyone attempt to move the swans. Occasionally, eggs may be destroyed by natural predators such as foxes or crows and while this is sad we must remember that it is a natural process. Older, more experienced swans are usually more successful in raising broods than younger ones.
“Finally, we ask that people do not attempt to feed any nesting swans you may see or cygnets later in the year. Cygnets will happily graze on grass and aquatic weeds and should not be fed bread or any other foodstuff by people.”