The unofficial emblem of our quintessential Devon coastal town, the Dawlish black swans have been members of the community for over 100 years. These beautiful birds sport an unmistakable red bill alongside their black plumage, and just as white swans, they live on the water. Seeing the black swans when you pay a visit to Dawlish is all part of the experience, so we wanted to share the history of when they were introduced, alongside where you can find them, plus a couple of other things you can do in Dawlish whilst you’re visiting.
Where did the Dawlish black swans come from?
Black swans breed mainly in southeast and southwest Australia, so finding them half-way across the world on English soil is highly unusual. Our black swans in Dawlish didn’t arrive on their own, as you may have expected, but were brought all the way from Australia as a gift for the town. Back in the early 1900s, a local Dawlish resident emigrated to New Zealand, and when he came back to visit in 1906, he brought a pair of black swans along with him.
No one really knows why he did this, but there’s some speculation around the topic that he wanted to give his hometown a unique gift, which would make Dawlish stand out from the crowd – and that it did!
Unfortunately, the very first black swans of Dawlish died sometime in between the two world wars. However, another pair was gifted to the town by Captain Pitman, a game war warden in Uganda, so the local community and visitors to the town could continue to enjoy these beautiful and unusual birds.
Where can you spot the black swans of Dawlish?
If you want to go in search of these beautiful black swans, all you need to do is head to The Brook, also known as Dawlish Water, and you’re sure to spot the resident swans and their fluffy cygnets (at the right time of year) paddling around and swimming in the stream. The Brook flows right through the middle of town and down to the coastline so you can’t really miss it.
Dawlish has a fab Webcam where you can see the Black Swans Live
Attractions in Dawlish
Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve
Aside from the black swans of Dawlish, this quaint seaside town offers lots of other wonderful attractions to explore, making for a lovely UK staycation. We highly recommend a visit to the Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve, an idyllic place for keen birdwatchers and general nature lovers. Running along the mouth of the Exe Estuary, during the winter months wading birds visit to feed, and throughout the year other species can be spotted including Brent Geese, or maybe even a Cirl Bunting. Children will also love exploring the freshwater pools, woodland and reedbeds that bless the area, or if you just like to don your walking boots and head out for the afternoon, you should definitely add this nature reserve to your list of planned ambles. To find out more about Dawlish Warren, check out our blog post about the area.
Dawlish Warren Beach
Backed by impressive cliffs, the sandy beach at Dawlish is the perfect spot for those searching for a touch of sun, sand and sea. Partly dog-friendly so your four-legged friends can enjoy the scenery too, it’s a lovely place to sunbathe and go for a dip in the water – when it’s warm enough! There are also water sports on offer for those looking for something more active, plus family-friendly activities and cafés for a spot of lunch.
If a beach holiday in South Devon sounds like your ideal break, here’s a guide to the best beaches.
Set amongst beautiful rolling countryside just south of Exeter, Powderham Castle is blessed with stunning gardens to explore, alongside a deer park, an old plantation and of course the beautiful building itself, which guests can enjoy a tour of. Regular events are also held at the estate, from retro festivals and comedy events through to muddy dog challenges. What’s more, Powderham Castle is just an eight-minute drive from our holiday park, so it makes for a perfect afternoon out.
The Exe Valley Way
If you’re a keen walker who likes to put the miles in, you’ll love the Exe Valley Way. A long walk of almost 50 miles, you can make a week of it and enjoy the country lanes, woodland and more that stretches from the South West Coast Path National Trail on the Exe Estuary to the high land of Exmoor National Park.
If a break in South Devon sounds like your kind of escape, be sure to check out our range of accommodation at the park. From luxury lodges and static caravans through to camping and holiday cottages, we’ve got every level of comfort you could need during a South Devon staycation.