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5th Jul, 2022

Lights bid to stop swans flying into Clopton Bridge in dark

Catherine Thompson 11th Mar, 2020 Updated: 11th Mar, 2020

LIGHTS could be installed to prevent swans flying into Stratford’s historic Clopton Bridge in the dark.

Matt Beacham, a volunteer for Stratford Swan Rescue, is hoping for permission to string up lights between the lampposts along the 15th century bridge after retrieving the body of a swan believed to have crashed to its death.

He said the grade 1-listed bridge was a ‘hotspot’ for swan deaths along with a power cable in Luddington – a popular site for nesting swans – where he recently retrieved two more swans which had fallen and broken their necks.

Mr Beacham – who runs the Carriageways Cafe along the Greenway cycle path – is also in discussions over installing signs on the bridge to warn drivers of swans which often wander along it because it was ‘one of their main landing areas’.

He said: “We think he hit the bridge trying to land and broke his neck. Regarding the bridge, we propose to approach the council to have some lights put on it as it’s a hotspot for swan deaths.

“Their eyesight isn’t great at night and they need some help from us. They have good peripheral vision but not so good forward vision so whether car lights confuse them I’m not sure.

“I believe it is a simple solution to save these beautiful majestic swans.”

Warwickshire County Council said they would consider the proposals which would need careful consideration before a decision was made.

But a spokeswoman for the RSPB advised lighting around bridges could cause more problems for night-flyers.

She explained: “Lighting around roads can confuse some waterfowl including swans, as the reflection on the tarmac can be mistaken for a body of water such as a river or pond. This can result in crash-landings, or swans getting stuck in areas they can’t take off from due to lack of available ‘runway’.

“If the bridge is over an existing waterway, there might be restrictions or implications of adding extra lighting, which might have a negative impact on other wildlife such as bats which feed in the area.”

Although she agreed power cables were often a problem for the birds.

“Swans and geese regularly fly into overhead power cables, seriously injuring or killing themselves. Any locations where this happens repeatedly should be reported to the officer of the relevant electricity company, who is able to arrange fitting of swan deflectors to the power line to make it more visible to the birds.”

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