Five small fluff balls sitting on the nest, Mother and father just want some rest! Saturday I returned to the swan family to see how they were getting on. On my arrival, mum was cleaning herself (which I might add, she was doing for two hours!) and dad was out on patrol. Under mums wing I counted five little fluff balls all mirroring their mum’s actions and doing a very good job of it. When mum stood up, I saw that there was one unhatched egg. This could be a very late hatcher, but more than likely this little babe didn't make it. Unfortunately, this is completely natural and despite the efforts from mum and dad to protect their young, they will be lucky to have just one surviving cygnet. This can happen from a number of reasons such as predators (Birds of prey, foxes etc). Natural causes such as the cold, starvation and even weakness, when its siblings are stronger than itself and are the first to feed, they can push others out of the way and so on.) Rather than dwelling on this unfortunately certain topic, the day I spent with the family was far from morbid!
I sat with the family for two hours until my sister Rebecca (or Bex, or Becki or Becki boodle, whatever you like really…) met me down there with her two dogs, Millie a very beautiful and bouncy golden Labrador and Reggie, the springiest springer spaniel I guarantee you will ever meet. Just before they met me, mum swan seemed to be trying to heard her cygnets into the water, which will have been their very first dip. I kept watching and one cygnet actually wandered too close to the edge of the nest, tumbled down the side and stopped just before it reached the water. Panicking it ran as fast as it could back up the side of the nest and once reaching the summit of what must have been a mount Everest equivalent for this little one, it retired into an exhausted pile and snuggled into its brothers and sisters. Just after the ordeal, I went on a walk with Bex and the dogs to the other end of the canal. When we returned about half an hour later, to my delight and also disappointment at missing the big moment, the entire swan family were in the water. Of course they were complete naturals. In fact, they took to it like a duck to water. Or swan to water. The siblings were playing, chasing one another and catching a few of the thousands of flies that were dancing on the water’s surface. Mum and dad couldn't have looked prouder, and although you might think a swan couldn't show any other emotion that anger, hatred or annoyance, it was clear that when the two enclosed their young in-between their bodies they had a slight glimmer in their eyes. Metaphorically…
I managed to capture a few shots of the young in the water, but nowhere near enough than I wanted (due to the fact I was late for horse riding). Despite this I know now that the best images from me will be of the cygnets in the water because of them being closer to me. The nest is just slightly too far to achieve images I am truly happy with.
I plan to return to the family on Monday morning for sunrise. I would like to capture the swans interacting in the soft warm glow of daybreak, and I may even be lucky enough to get a nice layer of mist.
Watch this space for more! Thank you for reading and all comments are hugely encouraged!