12:46PM, Thursday 06 August 2015
The Queen's Swan Marker has said this year's annual census of swans recorded a 'disappointing' number of cygnets.
This year's Swan Upping, which was held at the end of July and passed through the Royal Borough, recorded 83 cygnets.
The total is about a third lower than last year's 120.
Swan Marker David Barber said an increase in attacks, both by wild animals and by humans, is the cause.
He said: "There was only 83 this year which is very disappointing.
"We've lost several swans in Windsor and Staines from shooting and air rifles.
"Also, there are plenty of natural causes that have taken their toll, like birds of prey and mink, but the shooting is the most serious."
David said swans are 'a little bit like humans' and if they lose their partner it will take a while for them to find a new one but hopes the number of cygnets next year will increase.
He said: "I hope numbers are back up next year, we can't carry on at the rate that it's going.
"If we have about 120 or 130 cygnets next year that will be a reasonable level.
"80 isn't acceptable but we do have some years that are lower than normal.
"What we're concerned about is the vandalism and shooting."
He thinks teaching children about the swans will help avoid future attacks on the birds.
During the Swan Upping week, school children met the count along the way to learn about the swans.
He said: "That's why we have many schools come down - we try and teach them.
"I think that's the key, to teach children to have an interest in wildlife and the river.
"We're all local people and youngsters should benefit from the river."
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