Doubt has been cast today over the adage about swans being able to break a man’s arm with their wings only being a myth. Because speaking from his hospital bed, retired plumber Alf Bassett from Reading, is living proof that it is very real prospect indeed.

Mr Bassett told The One Show how he was walking by The Thames with a bag of bread feeding the ducks, when he was alerted by a splash that a large Mute Swan had landed midstream. Upon spotting him the bird immediately aquaplaned over to where he was standing, jumped out of the water hissing in an alarming manner before swishing its wings directly towards him and breaking his right arm as feathers flew.

However top bird boffin, Bill Oddie, was unconvinced by the tale. ‘This sounds odd to me. Swans although quite large don’t have the power or heft in their wings to accomplish such a thing. If you ask me Mr Bassett is looking for publicity here, and after all, as the story first appeared in the Daily Mail… then I rest my case.’

But if publicity is indeed what Mr Bassett was seeking then he may have got more than he bargained for, because after telling Alex Jones that he ‘wrung the bastard’s neck with my good arm,’ he’s now facing criminal proceedings for killing one of Her Majesty’s flock.