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Hamburg rounds up Alster swans

The Local · 15 Nov 2010, 16:28

Published: 15 Nov 2010 16:28 GMT+01:00

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The port city’s “swan father” Olaf Nieß and a group of helpers plucked some 35 of the 120 snowy white birds from the outer Alster Lake with a flurry of plumage, binding their feet and wings for the trip before a large group of observers.

“This year hasn’t gone without problems,” said Nieß, who 15 years ago inherited the post from his father Harald, the swans’ caretaker for 40 years.

Click here for photos of the Swan round-up.

On Monday only a fraction of the swans could be picked up thanks to a recent storm that pushed the birds into outlying canals, said the younger Nieß.

“But no worries, I’ll get them still,” he said.

In the coming days Nieß and his assistants will continue wrangling swans until they’re all safely housed in the Eppendorf district’s mill pond, which is kept free of ice year round.

“When I meet a swan, I very nicely convince him to accompany me,” he added.

The birds have been a part of the city landscape since the 11th Century, under the care of a “swan father” - Hamburg’s oldest municipal post - since 1674.

Story continues below…

The birds now grace the Hamburg city emblem, with their seasonal migrations between the mill pond and the Alster lake heralding both winter and spring.


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The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:09 November 15, 2010 by William Thirteen
Swan Wrangler!
18:02 November 15, 2010 by canadianinberlin
So it's tradition. The question is "What for?".
18:44 November 15, 2010 by moreanon
I wonder what keeps them from flying out of their winter quarters.
18:46 November 15, 2010 by hanskarl
"What for?"

"In the coming days Nieß and his assistants will continue wrangling swans until they¦#39;re all safely housed in the Eppendorf district¦#39;s mill pond, which is kept free of ice year round. "
10:55 November 16, 2010 by canadianinberlin
Don't you believe it hanskarl, swan was bred for the table at least during 11th century. It's just a cute tradition of the original harvesting method, don'tcha know. Pointless exercise and annoys the birds. If it's all about saving them from freezing, perhaps they've bred the sense out of them.
13:09 November 16, 2010 by mobiusro
And there are always fewer in the spring and sometimes it smells like fried meat during winter in that area, nobody knows why. It's a mistery!
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