12:00PM, Wednesday 16 July 2014
Excited schoolchildren became part of the annual Swan Upping event along the River Thames on Tuesday.
They bombarded the Queen's swan marker David Barber with questions as he and his team stopped off at Oakley Court Hotel on the second day of the traditional annual census of the river's bird population.
The hotel on the Thames in Windsor Road, Water Oakley, was a perfect place for the six mahogany skiffs carrying the swan markers to stop off for a break.
They were greeted by pupils from nearby Braywood First School in Oakley Green Road.
The children were able to get up close and personal with the swans and cygnets while the birds were counted, weighed, measured and checked for injuries by Mr Barber and his team before being put back in the water.
The annual Swan Upping takes five days, as the boats travel the Thames between Sunbury and Abingdon.
Tuesday's stop off at Oakley Court marked the second day of the journey, which had started earlier at Windsor Eton Bridge on its way towards Boulters Lock in Maidenhead and Cookham Lock.
It was David Barber's 22nd time leading the Swan Upping, which has been happening since the 12th century.
He said: "The floods caused a lot of problems for swans this year - not so much when the water was at its height as the swans could move onto land.
"But later when they started nesting the currents were so strong that their cygnets got swept away.
"Over the last year we have also had reports of an increase in attacks on swans by dogs, as well as shootings - which is pretty grim."
Worryingly, Mr Barber said numbers of swan families spotted had been down 20 per cent on last year on Monday, the first day of the census - but numbers were much higher on the second day. A better picture will emerge at the end of the five-day trip.
Actor Martin Clunes joined the Swan Uppers as part of filming for a new ITV show. Find out more about what he thought of the experience here.
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