The county of Wiltshire celebrates Wiltshire Day on the 5th June. Never heard of it? Read on!
The British county flags website tells us that the reason for the day is to commemorate the date, in 2007, when the Great Bustard flag first flew on County Hall in Trowbridge.
The flag features the Great Bustard – a bird that yours truly at first thought was mythological. Y’know – like the Phoenix. Doh! I mean – it sounds it doesn’t it?! But no – it’s real. And it’s a bit of a big b8gger too!
The Great Bustard
The Wiltshire Wildlife Trust website tells us that the 19th century saw the Bustard hunted to extinction.
There exists a Great Bustard group, based on Salisbury Plain, that’s enjoyed success in supporting a breeding population of 100 birds – that has steady growth. The WWT site explains that the group has found ways to import eggs, raise chicks, protect the young and introduce adult birds back into the wild. And all done in safe and ecological ways. Since 2019, all new bustard releases are solely home-grown.
It seems that reintroducing great bustards comes with none of the drawbacks of other species that are candidates for reintroduction to Britain. As the WWT points out, unlike wolves, lynxes, eagle owls or many of the other big raptors, Bustards are not predators, neither are they landscape changers such as the beaver or wild boar.
The Great Bustard is Wiltshire’s iconic bird. It appears on the county coat of arms, on its crest and of course on its flag. You’ll find the image of the bird throughout the county in such diverse settings as the symbol of the High Sheriff and the badge of the Girl Guides.
See also this guest blog from Rebecca Davies featuring the Great Bustard:
There isn’t actually a Swindon Day but this year, on the 22nd January, the Federation of Small Business, launched a Swindon Day as an excuse to celebrate small businesses based in Swindon. And the hook on which to hang Swindon day?:
Before the railway came, Swindon existed only as a small market town up on a hill. It’s now known as Old Town. Then, in 1841, construction began on a greenfield site some two miles from the hilltop settlement, of the GWR railway village. And New Swindon was born.
The two Swindons co-existed, not altogether at peace each with the other, for almost a decade. They remained apart, both physically and administratively, until 22nd January 1900. On that date Queen Victoria signed a charter, the last such of her reign, to bring the old and new Swindon’s together as one. Thus, the hill that links the two, and up which the women of the railway village would daily trudge to buy provisions, bears her name.
We do though have a Swindon flag designed by Torin Clements. Find out more about it here.