SPRING has sprung at Abbotsbury Swannery as the first swan egg of the year is laid in time for the attraction’s re-opening.

The popular attraction, which has existed for at least 600 years, throws open its doors for the year today after struggling through a difficult winter due to severe weather conditions.

The swan egg was spotted by swanherd Charlie Wheeler in a nest on Thursday by the main path from the entrance to the feeding area by the side of the fleet.

The swans return annually to Abbotsbury to raise their young, which usually hatch in the second and third weeks of May.

Dave Wheeler, head swanherd for more than 30 years, said the swannery now has 13 eggs.

He added: “We didn’t know what to expect because of the terrible floods; the site was submerged twice in February and a lot of things were damaged.

“Last year, the first egg was laid here on April 1 but back in 2012 the first egg was laid on March 14 – so we never can predict timings.

“The eggs are now coming thick and fast; we’re not sure if we’ll beat last year’s total of 100 swan nests, but the first egg has been a good sign of things to come.

“There’s also now some new fencing, paths, information boards, new pens for the swans to rear their young in and a new casualty pen where swans go for treatment or to recover.”

Nests are being made for swans that aren’t off to such a quick start using reed from the reed beds that grow around the swannery.

About 150 pairs of swans nest at the swannery every year and the average number of eggs laid per nest is six.

Once they’ve started laying, swans lay one egg every two days until they’ve laid as many as they're going to lay.

Eggs start hatching 35 days after the last egg has been laid.

Mr Wheeler added: “Old Dorset legend has it that the day of the hatching of the first cygnet is the first day of summer.

“So if we assume that this first swan spends another week laying eggs, then summer could be just six weeks away.”