Swan Upping, the annual census of the British Queen's swans, has taken place for nearly 900 years on the Thames River. Not just idle swan counting, the census plays an important role if the conservation of the mute swan.
David Barber, the Queen's Swan Marker, lifts a swan ashore during the annual Swan Upping census along the river Thames, at Staines-on-Thames, southern England, July 20, 2015. Young cygnets are counted and swans and cygnets are assessed for signs of injury or disease during the ceremony.
The five-day census of the swan population dates back to the twelfth century when the Crown claimed ownership of all mute swans. Today, the Crown retains the right to ownership of all unmarked mute swans in open water, but The Queen only exercises her ownership on certain stretches of the River Thames and its surrounding tributaries.