Bewick’s swans in the air. The first arrivals made it to the UK this week. Picture: James Lee/WWT.

The first two Bewick’s swans have arrived at a Welney Wildlfowl centre, fuelling speculation that a bitter winter is ahead.

They were spotted at the centre on Tuesday – the earliest recorded arrival since 1978.

The Bewick’s flew in from their Arctic home days after the first whooper swans arrived.

The earliest ever arrival at the centre was October 1, 1978, when a group of eight arrived.

Centre manager, Leigh Marshall said it is “very unusual” for two species to arrive one week of one another.

He said: ‘‘It is always very exciting to see the return of the swans in the autumn.

“We have been eagerly anticipating the first Bewick’s swans from Arctic Russia.”

As part of a research project, staff have been using modern technology to study the Bewick’s swan’s journey.

They have seen satellite-tagged individuals making their way closer to the UK over the last week.

Mr Marshall said: “On the other hand, we had been expecting the sight of the first whooper swan since late September, but we could see that the wind direction would make for a hard journey with it blowing away from the UK.

“Swans respond to day length and weather when choosing when to start large movements south, but it does make life easier for them if they have a tail-wind.”

Staff at the centre say unusually cold weather is currently sweeping parts of Western Russia and Eastern Europe, with temperatures being up to ten degrees below average.

The Bewick’s Swans are likely to remain at Welney until February.

on the remains of harvest in the surrounding fields.