NATURALIST Sarah Dench, who has been dubbed the human swan, is planning an epic flight in Scotland.
Dench made worldwide headlines last year for her 4500 miles motorised paraglider flight from the Arctic to the UK following the migration route of the endangered Bewick’s swan.
She is now planning a new expedition from “the tip to the toe” of the Hebrides and is a special guest at this weekend’s Wild Film Festival Scotland where audiences will hear how she took to paragliding to cure a fear of flying.
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Dench will also be making preparations for a planned “just for fun” paramotor flight the length of the Hebrides in May – supported by a team on a tall ship.
While at the festival in Dumfries, Dench hopes to visit the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reserve at Caerlaverock which is renowned for bringing back another famous migratory bird, the Svalbard barnacle goose, from the edge of extinction.
Last year’s Flight of the Swans saw Dench become the first woman to cross the English Channel in a paramotor. The idea was to meet communities along the way and discover why Bewick swan numbers are in catastrophic decline and why, despite legal protection, around 28 per cent have shotgun pellets in their flesh.
Hopes are now high that the expedition will raise awareness and change behaviour.
Dench said: “The reception we got was quite remarkable with schools, communities, mayors and ministers coming out to meet us.
“It seemed to generate this Mexican wave of enthusiasm about the swans – and they are such an exciting bird – so hopefully it will make a difference.”
WFFS takes place from March 24 to 26 and its central themes are Amazing Journeys, Wild Places and Rewilding. Around 30 films are being screened, many of them winners of coveted Wildscreen Panda Awards (the wildlife Oscars).
Naturalists and broadcasters Simon King (Big Cat Diary) and Iolo Williams (Springwatch) will be among the 20 speakers.