‘Polish’ Mute Swans

Published on 17 March 2016 in News and comment

The so-called ‘Polish’ Mute Swan is a genetically determined colour variant, which results in white cygnets with pale greyish-pink legs and feet. In over 50 years of birding in Norfolk, Moss Taylor has encountered Polish Mute Swans at only two locations: Cley and Felbrigg, and is interested to know more about their distribution – are they really that unusual? Following an article by Moss in Birdwatch in May 2015, further reports were received from southeast England (in Kent, Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk), and since 2013 Polish Mute Swan cygnets have been reported from seven localities within these four counties. But is this really a true reflection of their distribution?

A national survey of Polish Mute Swans has never been attempted and Moss is keen to research this further, and to receive any reports of this colour phase in cygnets seen in 2016, as well as any adults (preferably sexed) that show the characteristic greyish-pink legs and feet, compared with the normal black. Any additional historical records would also be valuable. Please send all sightings and reports by e-mail to [email protected] or by post to Moss Taylor, 4 Heath Road, Sheringham, Norfolk NR26 8JH.

A 'Polish' Mute Swan in Shetland (second from right), with its parents (the two birds on the left) and a normal juvenile (right-hand bird); pic by Roger Riddington

A ‘Polish’ Mute Swan in Shetland (second from right), with its parents (the two birds on the left) and a normal juvenile (right-hand bird); pic by Roger Riddington