The Swan Master, by Clad in red-and-white outfits emblazoned with the royal livery, palace boatmen embarked on their annual five-day journey up the River Thames to count the population of the waterway’s swans, which have theoretically belonged to the monarch since the 12th century.

“Swan Upping” — so called because the boatmen catch the swans by lifting them up from the river — dates from medieval times, when swans were served as delicacies at banquet tables.

Today, the census is used to save the swans. The counting, measurement and documentation enables conservationists to tailor methods to protect the regal birds.

(READ MORE of the AP story w/ photo at

The Swan Master, photo by Dave,

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