Hundreds of people gathered in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire to watch one of England’s most celebrated traditions, as this year’s Swan Upping returned on Tuesday.

The annual event, which started in the 12th Century, saw the Queen’s swan markers locate all the cygnets on the Thames.

They then picked up the cygnets, weighed them and tagged them before putting them back in the river.

The day started at Eton Bridge, with the boats departing at 8.30am before heading towards Boveney Lock, Boulters Lock and Cookham Bridge, before finishing at Marlow Lock.

David Barber, the Queen’s head swan upper, said: “The Swan Upping has gone very well, far better than we thought it would.

“It takes a bit of time to train someone how to pick up the cygnets because you need to know how to handle them like holding the wings and it isn’t an easy job.

“Picking up the cygnets are fine but it’s the adult birds with their large wings as they can get up to around two and a half metres and they weight up to 15 kilos, so they are a big bird to handle.

“I’ve done this for 26 years, so I’m pretty used to it. It’s an art to deal with the swans.”

Children from Cookham Rise Primary School joined Mr Barber to help kick off the second day of the census.

But despite many cygnets being tagged and being released back into the river, Mr Barber revealed many cygnets have died this year after being attacked by other animals.

“We have had a lot of problems recently with an increase of mink that’s been killing the cygnets, along with dog attacks earlier in the season when they are nesting.

“People take their dogs off the leads with some them attacking the swans when they are sitting on their nests.”