Lincoln’s Iconic Swans – An Update

16 December 2021

Written by: hgamble

Calls for Lincoln City residents to continue supporting efforts and research to grow and protect Lincoln’s iconic swan population.

Calls for Lincoln City residents to continue supporting efforts and research to grow and protect Lincoln’s iconic swan population.

With challenges faced by the rise of global temperatures, the University of Lincoln, UK, has been working to develop positive approaches to creating a sustainable and environmentally friendly campus – with the Brayford swan population a top priority.

Historically, large juvenile groups of mute swans overwintered on the Brayford. In a bid to monitor the movements, breeding, and survival of the city’s iconic swan population, the Lincoln Swan Project has encouraged public support.

People from all over Lincolnshire have been collecting information about swans using a data-gathering app, Epicollect5. This support has been imperative for monitoring the swan community and now the Lincoln Swan Project is appealing for more people to use the app.

The app allows the wider community to report when and where they see swans, along with any breeding data. So far, over 2,800 sightings have been logged since it launched in May 2020.

The Lincoln Swan project has tagged swans with yellow leg rings, each with a unique code to help identify individual birds. The 4-digit codes on the rings can be reported through the app, along with information about where they were sighted – helping researchers to monitor individual swans and swan families every year.

A total of 253 swans within a 10km radius in Lincoln city centre have been ringed so far, and during the annual family round-up in August, the research team caught 12 families of swans, plus two pairs without cygnets: 64 birds in total.

Brood sizes this year were smaller than in previous years with data submitted through the app clarifying the timeframe when pairs lost cygnets. It also monitors clutch size, hatching success and how the families use the habitat within their territories.

The data collected has formed a basis for understanding how the swans use the waterways in and around Lincoln, as well as analysing the dispersal of juvenile swans from their natal territories. The swans have been spotted around the East Midlands with some being spotted in North Yorkshire and even as far away as Cheshire.

Dr Jenny Dunn, Senior Lecturer in Animal Health and Disease at the University of Lincoln said: The Lincoln Swan project, on the Epicollect5 App, is helping us form a picture of how swans use the waterways in and around Lincoln, not just on the Brayford.

 “We have so far had more than 2,800 sightings reported to us, but we have surprisingly few reported sightings of birds in the centre of Lincoln. If you see swans in and around Lincoln, please register to use the App at and report your sightings to us.

 You can find out more information about the project at, and the swans are on Twitter @LincolnSwans and Facebook as the Lincoln Swan Project.

 Surveys will be carried out by Postgraduate students in the new year to gain a better understanding of and to improve public engagement in the project.

The project has received ethical clearance (ethics code UoL2020_2236).