Power lines adapted in Langtoft by Western Power Distribution after death of swans

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A Langtoft ornithologist is celebrating after a power company agreed to adapt its power lines following a spate of recent swan deaths at Baston Fen.

Josh Jones, 28, who works for Birdguides magazine, was out bird watching when had noticed that five of the majestic birds had been killed as a direct result of flying into the power lines close to their feeding grounds.

He said: “There is a large complex of gravel pits in various states of maturity at Baston Fen. The north side of the complex is where the newest of the excavations are, and the pit here is no more than three years old.

“The problem is that the swans have started using the pit as a roost during the day, and then they’ve hit the overhead power lines as they’ve flown out to feed.

“Swans are not very good at seeing the power lines, and this is exasperated at dusk or when there is low visibility. As you can imagine, a swan is large and heavy and they struggle to manoeuvre quickly.

“They’ve clearly hit the wire and either broken their neck or their wing and died instantly. All five were directly below the overhead power lines and it was clear I had to see what could be 
done.”

Disturbed at the high rate of dead swans in the area, Josh took to social media and contacted the power distributor, Western Power, asking them what action they were going to take to prevent more casualties.

The response was decisive and immediate – within five hours the company had installed around 70 diverters, special attachments to the lines which make them stand out to birds in flight, to the overhead line near the gravel pit in question.

The action has worked – Josh has seen no new swan deaths since the diverters were installed.

Josh said: “The response from Western Power was phenomenal. A swan strike could cause huge damage to the power lines, so this really is a win, win situation, for the company, for the swans and for electricity users.

Western Power Distribution Stamford team manager Tomasz Paradowski, said: “The diverters alert the birds to the presence of the power lines by rotating in the wind.

“They also contain glow-in-the-dark natural crystals which absorb and emit purple ultraviolet light so that birds can see them at dawn, dusk or night time.

“We’ve installed them in other areas and they’ve proven to be effective, so we hope that our work here will have the same result.”