Tag: Serenity

Flying with swans conservationist joins migrating birds on dangerous 4700 mile journey

first_imgSacha Dench believes it will take 70 days to make the 4,700 mile journey back to Britain  Bewick swans travel south to spend the winter in Europe  Bewick swans travel south to spend the winter in Europe  Sacha Dench believes it will take 70 days to make the 4,700 mile journey back to Britain  In the past 20 years, Berwick swan numbers have nearly halved with just 20,000 remaining in the wild but experts are unsure what is causing the population crash.Miss Dench, who works at the Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in Gloucestershire,  said friends and family thought she was ‘bonkers’ when she initially told them of her plans, which are fraught with danger.“There is a reason that the swans leave Russia during this time,” said Miss Dench, a former free diving champion. “The weather conditions can get pretty bad. It’s going to get very cold, maybe as low as -20C. And it can get very misty, so when we get to areas where there are power lines and low visibility there is a real danger I won’t see them. Sacha Dench will be making the journey using a paramotor - a type of powered paraglider  A Bewick swan comes into land at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Fuel caches have been dropped along the route, which passes through 11 countries, to keep the paramotor in the air and she has scoped out hunters huts to camp out in.  But she will still need to travel with nearly 90lbs of weight strapped to her back, for periods of up to three hours at a time.center_img “My family initially thought I was bonkers and that I couldn’t pull it off but I think they have now realised how passionate I am about this, and think I can do it.“Although I am essentially going to be hanging from a piece of fabric for 70 days, so I can see why people might think it’s ridiculous.” The expedition  is backed by Sir David Attenborough who said it was ‘marvellously imaginative and adventurous.’In 1990 Christian Moullec, a French ornithologist, became the first person to successfully complete the migration route with a group of birds from Sweden to Germany followed by 30 geese. He has since spent years training geese to follow migratory routes that avoid hunters.Miss Dench is hoping to set off from Russia on September 6. The first 600 miles of the journey takes her across the Russian tundra, a desolate expanse with no roads, inhabited by polar bears, bears and wolves. To make matters worse Bewicks have been landing at the Wetlands Trust with shotgun pellets buried in their skin.“I am hoping that subsistence hunters who would shoot the swans will realise that I am a human. I am hoping they won’t see me as much of a threat.” she said.“I’m really banking on the fact that once the local communities find out what we are up to and why we are doing it they will be behind us. We have talked to some of the reindeer hunters who sometimes shoot the swans and they didn’t know that the numbers were declining.”Although a support helicopter will be on hand to film the mission, Miss Dench will be largely relying on the good will of local reindeer hunters to help her find food and shelter. She has spent the last year making contact with the nomadic tribes – the Nenets – who inhabit the tundra so they are not alarmed when she flies into view and they have agreed to keep her up to date with their location. She is also paramotoring with Russian Alexander Bogdanov who has been enlisted to help her communicate with the remote communities, although she has been learning the language herself.Despite all the planning, Miss Dench is still worried that she might lose track of the birds, or that they will stop for lengthy periods. Seven swans have been tagged so she can catch up.“The swans fly can fly through the night, which is something that I can’t do, so that’s a worry, and they could decide to land for weeks and weeks to refuel,” she added. Sacha Dench will be making the journey using a paramotor – a type of powered paraglider  Studying the lives of swans might seem like a gentle pursuit involving pleasant afternoons by the river, as the birds glide serenely across the water.But one conservationist is risking being shot, electrocuted and attacked by bears and wolves during a treacherous 4,700 mile journey to follow the migration route of the Bewick Swan.Sacha Dench, 41, a distant relative of Dame Judi Dench, is due to embark on the 10 week mission at the beginning of September. As soon as the swans make a move, Miss Dench will also start her journey.Strapped to a paramotor – a powered paraglider – Ms Dench  is planning to follow the birds as they travel south from their summer breeding grounds in the Russian arctic into Europe for the winter. Numbers of Bewick swans have nearly halved in the past 20 years and nobody knows why Credit:Gettylast_img read more

Start reading Flying with swans conservationist joins migrating birds on dangerous 4700 mile journey

Clans given Edinburgh Castle welcome 272 years after siege attempt

first_imgHarry and James St. Clair with Daisy MacNab as a gathering of clansmen and clanswomen has been welcomed to the Great Hall at Edinburgh Castle It is believed to be the only time that clans have been openly welcomed to one of Scotland’s oldest fortresses.During the Tattoo’s August extravaganza, the military showcase will champion the theme Splash of Tartan, a series of events that will encourage people living in Scotland and those with a link to it to explore their ancestral connections with the country.In the opening ceremony each evening, clan chiefs will lead their clan folk on to the Esplanade to the awaiting Tattoo crowd.Brigadier David Allfrey, chief executive and producer of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, said: “Edinburgh Castle has been at the centre of so many extraordinary events over the years and it is tremendous that we will see another story playing out this summer. Harry and James St. Clair with Daisy MacNab as a gathering of clansmen and clanswomen has been welcomed to the Great Hall at Edinburgh CastleCredit: Tony Marsh/PA A gathering of clansmen and clanswomen has been welcomed to the Great Hall at Edinburgh Castle for the first time in centuries.The last time the clans marched to the castle was when they came to Edinburgh to lay siege to it during the Jacobite uprisings in 1745.The gathering on Monday was organised by The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which is celebrating its own ties with the Scottish diaspora of clans this year. Sir Malcolm MacGregor, Daisy MacNab, Paul Macdonald, Brigadier David Allfrey (Tattoo), James St. Clair, Allen Henderson, Major General Mike Riddell-Webster and Gill RoberstonCredit:PA/ Tony Marsh “I wonder what the forebears of the clan chiefs and the leaders of the families would be thinking if they could witness so many of their descendants being entertained in the Great Hall?”As well as looking to our history and heritage, I hope the Tattoo’s ‘Splash of Tartan’ will serve to stimulate anyone with a little Scottish blood in their veins to visit and enjoy our hospitality and everything that is remarkable about modern Scotland.” In September 1745 more than 900 Highland clansmen marched to the city of Edinburgh to lay siege to the castle.Although they managed to capture Edinburgh and Holyrood, they were never successful in capturing the castle as General Guest, governor at the time, would not surrender the castle to Bonnie Prince Charlie and his men.Sir Malcolm MacGregor, convener of the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs, said they were looking forward to the summer events.He said: “For the participating clans, it will be a dream come true to march onto the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, a location that has, over the centuries, been central to the clan story.”Tartan will be to the fore with the clans kitted out in the ‘Garb of Old Gaul’.”The great cloth, that has been worn by the clans and Scottish regiments since the Jacobite period of the 1700s, will be on full display and worn with great pride.”The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo returns to the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle between August 4 and 26.Culture minister Fiona Hyslop said: “The clans are an integral part of our rich heritage, their histories shaping Scotland.”The clans generate significant interest from the international diaspora and I welcome their involvement in this year’s Tattoo.” Sir Malcolm MacGregor, Daisy MacNab, Paul Macdonald, Brigadier David Allfrey (Tattoo), James St. Clair, Allen Henderson, Major General Mike Riddell-Webster and Gill Roberston Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more

Start reading Clans given Edinburgh Castle welcome 272 years after siege attempt