Summer begins now, so say the monks
Published 04/05/2011 | 19:53
Britain could be heading for an early summer, if legend is to be believed.
The first cygnet hatched on Tuesday morning at Abbotsbury Swannery in Dorset, nearly two weeks earlier than usual.
According to a 600-year-old legend, the hatching signifies an early summer. And if the swans are right, Britain could be in for a hot May.
The cygnet, Sunny, was born at 7.45am at the swannery located at Chesil Beach. Sadly its father Philip died last week and mother Annabelle has been left on its own to look after three cygnets and four eggs yet to hatch.
"Annabelle is coping really well without her partner Philip because she's such an experienced mother and she looks very happy with her young," said head swanherd Dave Wheeler.
"The high temperatures in March encouraged the swans to nest very early. The Met Office said it was the driest March for a century and April 6 had the highest temperature on record."
Staff have put Annabelle her and her young family in a separate enclosure to make sure she feels secure.
Usually the cygnets hatch in the second or third week in May. This year is the second earliest date recorded since the swannery began 600 years ago.
The Benedictine monks who established the swannery believed that the day the first cygnet hatched signalled the first day of summer.
Warm winds from Spain and France pushed temperatures over 20C in many places across the UK during April. The legend also has science on its side as the Met Office predicts mild weather continuing well into May.