Leeds Castle is proud to announce that Mark Brattle, Falconry and Wildlife Manager at the Castle, has officially been named as the Mayor’s Swan Master by Maidstone Borough Council.
Mark, who has managed the Castle’s Falconry Department since 2012, says he is delighted to have been given the title by the Mayor of Maidstone, Cllr David Naghi.
“As Falconry and Wildlife Manager at one of Kent’s oldest royal Castles, I help manage the wildlife and beautiful swans on our Estate on a daily basis. To now also be named as the official Swan Master of Maidstone by the Mayor is an incredible honour, and I look forward to helping oversee the welfare of the birds on the river this year,” says Mark.
The role of the Swan Master is an honorary position, and involves catching and ringing the cygnets on Maidstone’s waterways during the Court of Survey Cruise; also referred to as ‘Swan Upping’.
The cruise is an ancient tradition originating from a Charter of Queen Elizabeth I, who in 1559 granted the borough of Maidstone with the privilege of owning the swans on its own waterways, extending from East Farleigh to Hawkwood in Burham. Maidstone is the only borough in the country where the swans belong to the Mayor – all other swans in the country belong to the Queen.
Mark attended a Swan Upping procession in Maidstone on Saturday 9th June, whereby Mark and the Mayor of Maidstone continued this tradition of counting the swans within the borough. It plays a huge part in the conservation of the swans, and allows the Swan Master to collect data and assess their general health. Mark reported that during Saturday’s Swan Upping procession, they counted a total of 40 swans and four cygnets along the waterway.
Mark manages the Falconry and Wildlife department at Leeds Castle, and has established a hardworking team of falconers who help care for the birds of prey for the enjoyment of visitors to the Leeds Castle estate. The team cares for a variety of birds, including Kookaburras, Owls, and Hawks, and there are free flying demonstrations in the Falconry Arena throughout the year. Mark and his team also help manage wildlife around the grounds of Leeds Castle; from Black Swans and Whooper Swans, to Mallards and Moorhens.