The plight of swans, wild geese and waterfowl struggling within the shrinking wetlands of a growing population and such things as fatal interference from worldwide tall power lines can be remedied. According to our guest on this Thursday’s show, Sacha Dench, the intrepid, flaxen haired member of the World Wildlife Trust team, their swansong isn’t playing just yet.
The ladies from the Girls do Coffee team, admirably aided and abetted by ex-patradio’s Dave Hailwood, were keen to pick her brains and find out, amongst other things, what it was like seeing some of the few pristine watery bird habitats lit by the rising sun.
Liz Garnett asked questions about flying the paramotor and microlight, Deborah Alexander reminded the thousands of listeners that a book about Sacha’s exploits would be in the offing and Gwen Jenner wanted to know what noticeable improvements for migratory birds were being established. We heard a wind turbine company intelligently asked for information from Sacha and the team regarding working with the migratory flight paths. Someone was listening in their office.
Sacha and the fantastic group of dedicated wildlife experts, medics, pilots and cameramen brought the lives of the Bewick swans into our cosy rooms for this project. The indiviudals Leho, Daisy Clark, Maisy and Hope carry collars to track their progress and we can follow their movements on the Facebook page Flight of the Swans.
The team’s dedication and passion warrants our attention because as our guest pointed out, ‘Swans are living breathing creatures that don’t just exist in fairy tales,’ as was believed to be the case by some isolated indigenous folk Sacha met on her travels.
Having been a free diving champion record holder in Australia in one of her previous lives Sacha climbed into the paramotor for her next adventure. Straddling the wetlands of the northern tundra lands, Lithuania, Scandinavia and Russia from Slimbridge, Gloucestershire UK, Sacha overcame her fear of flying to hit the freezing arctic skies. As well as piloting the machine for a records breaking 7,000km flight she filmed the migrating swans with cameras attached to her body, moving her frozen hands and icicled contraption parallel with these magnificent creatures. Eye to eye at an altitude of a few thousand feet. What a feat.
To have been given a glimpse into the magnificent experience has been a treat. Sacha kindly mentioned the fact that her morning with us had also been one of the more pleasurable and fun experiences of a busy PR life. We were honoured and pleased to have heard her tales, listening avidly to efforts comprising the incessant work required to change the minds of the powers that be. Sir Peter Scott has been referred to as the patron saint of naturalists by Sir David Attenborough and Scott, a former hunter, naval man, skilled artist, ornithologist and conservationist certainly set the map to change our approach to understanding and protecting waterbirds and the necessary habitats over six decades ago. We are indebted to him for setting up the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and World Wildlife Fund as well as the wetland parks in the London, the UK and Ireland being worth a visit for all age groups.
We take it for granted that the birds will be with us forever, the swans especially. They are an ancient symbol in very many different respects and to imagine them dissolving within our lifetimes as the extinct Dodo is a distinct horror.
Sacha Dench and the Flight of the Swans showed us that it is within our hands to protect one of nature’s beautiful evolutions. Donations, birdwatchers, reporters, planning gurus and governments can all take part. Gwen suggested that a new take on Swan Lake might be possible a broader interest; something poignant and entertaining composed by fellow Aussie Tim Minchin perhaps. Who knows what’ll fly to pull at our purses and heartstrings.
You can listen again on Expat Radio.
Gwen Jenner – www.gwenjenner.com