Female Swan and cygnets (hatched 5th-7th May)
I took this picture today, 10th May. I chose it from those I took because it shows the behaviour of the female swan, looking for food.
The weather here was bad yesterday (9th), today has been worse with strong winds and heavy rain, but I thought I'd go and see how they were getting on. Of course Swans, being water birds, don't mind getting wet.
When I got near the nest I could see it was deserted, and I panicked a bit, but there was no sign of trouble. I went to look to see if I could find the swan family.
I found them about half a mile away. Mum was sitting on a small island, about a metre across, (you can see it in the background here) with one cygnet perched on her back, Dad was on guard in the water nearby. The other cygnets were fast asleep , cosily tucked under Mum's wings.
I approached them very carefully, and stood under some nearby trees. Their new place is well away from where many people are likely to find them, and very much safer from disturbance by dog-walkers. I thought that may be why they moved. Dad swan, he's called a Cob, came towards me he wasn't in the least threatening. I'd got some bread, which I gave him and he ate it quite greedily. I threw someinto the water to try to persuade him it was the best place for him to be.
Some of the bread was pushed by the wind across the water towards Mum, she's called a Pen, and she stretched her neck to reach it without uncovering the cygnets she was protecting.
After about ten minutes the cygnets woke and made for the water. Then something really strange happened.
Mum led the way across towards the bank, all the time looking intently into the water and making small noises. (That's what this picture shows) Then she dipped her head beneath the water and pulled at some weed. She dropped it into the water in front of the cygnets. They just looked at it, seemed slightly bemused. She did this several times and eventually one or two cygnets pecked at it.
Then Mum started shaking her head violently from side to side, stopped and looked at the cygnets and did it again. She did this several times, each time she stopped and watched them. Then one of the little ones seemed to try to copy her. I wondered if she was trying to show them how to pull the weed from the water.
They moved in closer to the bank and I could see that the water is quite shallow for some distance outwards because Mum stood and watched the cygnets. I wonder if they may have moved because the water here is shallower, so the cygnets can reach the weed growing just beneath the surface. The water near the nest site is quite deep.
I'll try to keep an eye on this family over the coming weeks and months, and will do my best to share a picture of them each week,
John Bird. Artis...
Swan and cygnets...