We know how much our visitors like to keep up to date with the swans on the Palace moat. Moira Anderson, Administrator at the Palace, will be sharing swan news with you here - do check in for updates!
4th June 2019
It looks like Grace and Gabriel are now sitting on the eggs - so fingers crossed in about 5 weeks we should see some cygnet movement in the nest! It looks like there are 4 eggs in total.
Great news - after a few days of sorting out cables, connections and power SwanCam has been moved and connected! It will be on our website this week. Here is Gabriel being a very good dad and keeping the eggs warm (while sort of letting me see that he has 4 there!)
30th May 2019
Egg update - 4 eggs are in the nest today. One egg is quite white and partly hidden which is probably the latest one to be laid.
I will leave them for a few days before checking again so will update at the start of June. Once Grace has laid all of the eggs she will then sit on them and remain on them most of the time for approx 5 weeks. She will leave the nest for brief periods during this time to feed and to clean herself, but Gabriel will probably remain by the nest to watch over it. Below is Grace watching what I am doing by her nest!
29th May 2019
There now appear to be two eggs. Grace is on the nest and quite protective of them, so we will try to disturb the nest as little as possible just at the moment.
23rd May 2019
Goodness what I couple of weeks… these swans are just amazing. I am still working on getting Gabriel to ring the bell, but he does come to the window when the bell is rung so that’s a positive! Bell ringing training maybe a little interrupted over the coming weeks though…..
The latest news is that an egg has been laid!
Grace and Gabriel have been busy building a nest over the last few days on the swan bank at the corner of the moat (by the top of Silver Street). Today I was able to take a photo of the first egg, with Gabriel.
Mute swans will lay one egg every 12 - 36 hours until they have a clutch of eggs, then they will be incubated. The cygnets usually hatch around 5 weeks after the last egg has been laid. We will leave them in peace now to complete their nest and will be keeping our fingers crossed that all will be well with the eggs.
22nd May 2019
Welcome to Gabriel and Grace. Thank you to everyone who made a suggestion for the names of the swans, we had around 500 suggestions!
Gabriel was suggested by several people and has echoes of the angel Gabriel which fits in nicely with the comparison often made by Palace visitors between angel wings and swans wings, also depicted in the beautiful stained-glass sculptures in the Palace Gardens by artist Edgar Phillips.
The name Grace, which was an extremely popular suggestion, could remind people of the title style used for royalty, some bishops and archbishops; or of the state of Christian grace, or indeed, just the graceful movements of these lovely swans.
I am pleased that I have names to call them by now. They seem to be extremely settled and happy.
20th May 2019
Swan training is coming along well! I have been running to the gatehouse every time the swans are close by and they will now come to the bell window when encouraged by either the bell or shaking the food. Mrs Swan is amazing at ringing the bell. Mr Swan is still not too sure about the whole ringing a bell for food - but I’ll continue to encourage him and hopefully he will be bell ringing over the coming weeks! Moira
Don’t forget tomorrow is the deadline for name suggestions for our swans.
Watch this space for the announcement of the names on Wednesday.
16th May 2019
Exciting news - the female swan rang the bell for food for the first time last night! Moira has been ‘training’ the swans since Sunday and Mrs Swan is obviously a quick learner. The behaviour will be continually reinforced by Moira over the next few days, and maybe Mr Swan will get the hang of it too!
14th May 2019
We’re holding a public naming competition to find names for the new pair of swans. The new swans arrived at the Palace last Thursday 9th May, having been re-homed by the charity Swan Rescue South Wales. They were blessed by The Right Reverend Ruth Worsley, Bishop of Taunton, before being released into the Moat.
We are inviting the public to send in their suggestions for swan names via our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts, by email [email protected] or at the Palace Shop.
The winning names will be announced on Tuesday 21st May.
12th May 2019
We still have swans! Our new arrivals have spent a couple of days exploring the moat and seem to be settling in really well. They have found a couple of places to sit out of the moat and have even discovered the nesting area.
Day one of training – two successful feeds from the bell window today. They were both coaxed over and spent about 5 minutes eating. To get them used to the bell I am ringing the bell just before throwing some swan food out to them. Fingers crossed they will soon associate the bell ring with food.
A great start and all the visitors who were on the drawbridge and Palace Green got to see the swans by the bell!
The second bell was put up on Thursday, which can be seen from the drawbridge. The original bell is still on the other side of the gatehouse and will remain in use, once the swans are used to the new bell.
The new bell being installed by Jane and Allen, from the boat on the moat.
9th May 2019
Hello, I’m Moira and I am the Administrator here at The Bishop’s Palace. I have worked at the Palace for eight years and probably have one of the most varied role descriptions at the Palace.
Over the years I have become more involved with the swans who live on the moat, and my desk is right next to a door that leads to the moat. Over the years I have learnt more about the swans and how to care for them. This has included spending a day with the Swan Herd Manager at Abbotsbury Swannery.
The last pair of swans, Wynn and Bryn, lived on the moat for about 6 years and successfully raised around 45 cygnets while living at the Bishop’s Palace. Each spring they would bring the cygnets to the office to show them off, and I have been very privileged to be able to sit with the tiny cygnets while their parents kept a careful watch!
Bryn unfortunately died in spring 2018 leaving Wynn to be the sole parent of 5 cygnets that hatched in May 2018. Wynn did an amazing job on her own and flew off with the cygnets in the Autumn, leaving the moat without its familiar swans.
Following advice from swan experts/sanctuaries, we waited to see if Wynn would return once her cygnets were settled elsewhere. Everyone’s patience was rewarded in January when a lone swan appeared on the moat. It was with great excitement that we confirmed this swan was indeed the wandering Wynn. However, Wynn only stayed for a short time, leaving the moat swanless again.
Swans have been a familiar sight on the moat for many years, and the Swans of Wells are world famous for ringing a bell at the gatehouse for food. This tradition began in the 1800’s - probably with one of Bishop Auckland’s daughters.
Several months have passed since Wynn’s second departure, so I have recently been in touch with my contacts and I am delighted to say that a new pair of swans are now rehomed on the moat.
The swans were welcomed by staff and volunteers – and Bishop Ruth. I will post updates on how the swans are settling in over the coming weeks so that you can share in their journey, and the challenges of bell ringing!
We will all be keeping our fingers crossed that they will settle well on the moat and decide to make it home!