IT was feared that a family of swans in Ludlow may have been wiped out after a female was found dead and her cygnets went missing.

Mystery surrounds her death and what will happen to her five young swans.

Vivienne Parry, a Ludlow Town councillor and the Shropshire councillor for Ludlow South, said that she understood that the swans had been killed but it now seems that the cygnets are alive but very vulnerable.

Photographer and wildlife expert Gareth Thomas saw what happened on Tuesday afternoon.

“I was working on Casemill weir when, a dead swan came rapidly down river towards me,” said Mr Thomas.

“I took photos, but was unable to retrieve it as it was in the flood and moving too fast over the weir.

“The body continued past the vets and down the river.

“The rest of the family were in total disarray for an hour or two, with the cob not wanting attention or be with the cygnets.

“However, on Wednesday morning the cob and the five cygnets were on the green at the bottom of Weeping Cross.

“He left them and flew up stream at 11am but at least he appears to realise it is down to him to keep the family together.

“He is seriously annoyed and grieving.

“We have no idea what goes through a swan’s mind but body language tells me a lot.

“I am just hoping he rallies and continues to protect the family.

“The pen I reckon, died from eating a poisonous root in the leat below the mill at horseshoe. They do not normally eat stuff in there, but due to the total loss of river crowfoot this year from the February floods, they are really hungry for green stuff.

“So they have been raiding the back leat at Ludford Mill. As they eat the roots, they may not be aware of the plant above, some of which in there are poisonous. It is almost an exotic water garden and not meant to have swans in there.

“But the river crowfoot situation has made them desperate.

“That is why they often spend time on the green at Weeping Cross Lane, as it is the grass they are after. “Unfortunately, it has just been cut, although I took steps to prevent that, it has still happened.”

Mrs Parry said that it was the second time that the make swan in Ludlow has lost a wife.

“There was a female swan before but she died and he took another wife,” said Mrs Parry.

“They were a lovely family.”

But Andy Boddington, Shropshire councillor for Ludlow North that includes the town centre, said that reports circulating on social media including the suggestion that the swans had been killed were not accurate.

“The cygnets are hopefully old enough now to look after themselves,” he said.

But the death of one parent will leave the cygnets more vulnerable.