Swans & Swan Cam
The tradition of Swans on the Moat at The Bishop’s Palace and Gardens in Wells is thought to go back to the 1850s when it is likely that a Bishop’s daughter first taught the swans to ring a bell at the Gatehouse for food. We now have two swan bells – one just beneath the window on the left of the Gatehouse, the other to the right – with a rope hanging down for the swans to pull.
Our current pair of Mute Swans, Grace and Gabriel, arrived in May 2019, thanks to Swan Rescue South Wales.
Since their arrival, they have become well-loved inhabitants of the Moat. They improve their nest building each year, and we have been lucky to have cygnets on the moat yearly. They have been known to walk through the market square, become pretty partial to the fudge shop one year, and enjoy being fed swan food.
Gabriel teaches each year’s cygnets how to ring the Gatehouse bell for food before the cygnets leave the moat in the winter/springtime to start life on their own.
Nest building for the next generation of cygnets starts in February/March, and eggs are laid later in March. After incubation of around 40 days, where Grace will remain on the nest, Cygnets tend to hatch around the first week of May.
Our former swan pair, Bryn and Wynn, who were long-standing and much-loved, sadly left us. Bryn, the cob, passed away in April 2018, and Wynn, the pen, departed from the Moat, along with her four remaining cygnets, in October 2018.
It is thought that the family group headed off to the Somerset Levels, a popular site for groups of swans. Wynn returned to the moat briefly in January 2019 before leaving again.
Swan News – December 2023
The last few weeks have seen Grace and Gabriel encouraging the remaining four cygnets to leave the moat. There have been several days when only three cygnets have been seen but then the fourth appears again later in the day, so I have a feeling they are just showing a little independence. If anyone was walking along Silver Street or Moat Walk the other Sunday they may have witnessed one of the cygnets returning from an exploratory flight. I received a call in the office to say there was a cygnet in the middle of Silver Street, about halfway down heading towards the Full Moon pub. I went out in search of the cygnet and called slowly to try to encourage it back towards Moat Walk, in what can only be described as ‘cygnet herding’. The cygnet and I had a little walk up Silver Street and along the moat so it could return to the family via the duck feeding platform.
I hope you enjoy a little video of our walk……