Tuesday, 7 June 2016

our local swans

9th May
A few weeks ago I started cycling along the canal instead of taking the short cut through the woods. The reasons behind this routine change are 'my' swans, a young pair who have taken up residence between lock 26 and lock 25. I grew quite fond of them and I think they recognise me, too (wishful thinking maybe). I first noticed their nest on the 9th of May, it was at that point quite well hidden and still small. On this day, Mrs Swan had already laid two eggs. It was saddened to find the nest abandoned and empty the next morning, the swans nowhere to be seen. Life on the canal is harsh, predators aplenty. Urban foxes by the dozens. On my way home both swans were back, adding more reeds and soft stuff to their nest. I thought they'd maybe start all over. Then, to my surprise, the next day the eggs were there again, plus one more. They must have buried the eggs in the nest when taking a trip to explore their territory.

10th May
11th May
There were four eggs when Mrs Swan started incubating the eggs, around the 14th of May. They swans stayed close to the nest at all times, keeping them warm.

16th May
16th May
Alas, life on the canal ain't a picnic. A few days later, I cycled past the nest and found it to be empty. No eggs, no swans, just some feathers. The nest was a mess, too. I am blaming an urban fox because access for people and dogs on the nest side of the canal is almost impossible. Foxes are agile, I have seen our back garden pest jump high fences and although the nest is not very accessible at all, I can imagine a fox would find it no challenge at all. A short distance away, I spotted the the swans. I was relieved to see them both but unfortunately, Mrs Swan was injured by the fox. She was bleeding. I must have missed the attack by minutes because the blood was still bright red, not oxidised.

19th May
19th May
It didn't look too bad though but of course I am not a vet. I was much more upset than I thought possible. I have seen many nature documentaries, death is never far and I must have witnessed (through the safety of the telly) countless lion hunts, killer whale stalkings and crocodile attacks. Seeing tragedy with my own eyes, just a few metres away was a painful experience. I have bonded with my swans and felt responsible for their wellbeing.

I called the SSPCA animal helpline to report the injured swan. I didn't think anything would happen but I was pleased to get a phone call later to say that someone had gone to see the swan but that they had been unable to access her because she was in the middle of the canal. They reassured me that someone would keep an eye on Mrs Swan. So did I.

20th May

I noticed that the moorhen family from next door started using the abandoned nest. When I couldn't see either of the swans, I feared the worst but this was premature. I saw Mrs Swan on the 20th of May. I assumed her bloke was exploring, maybe to find a new nesting place.

20th May
20th May

Mrs Swan is lopsided but seems otherwise ok. I saw her feed and she swims up and down the canal as she has always don. I noticed that she is only using her left leg, her right one must be broken, or at the very least sore.  I haven't seen them rebuild the nest, or build a new one. I guess with a broken leg  Mrs Swan would not be able to climb up into the nest.


1st June
1st June

1st June
I have been keeping an eye on the swans ever since. I am fairly certain that Mrs Swan is now a lone swan. I am not sure where her man disappeared to, he may have fallen prey to a predator, or he may have abandoned his Mrs. She seems to keep well but continues not to use her right leg. Sometimes it drags in the water, other times she tucks it up on her side. I hope in time she will be able to have some  proper use of it, otherwise she'll be confined to her current habitat, between lock 25 and lock 26 on the Forth and Clyde canal. Life on the canal ain't easy. This particular part of town is overpopulated with urban foxes and it is a surprise that water fowl continue to breed here. The swans between lock 27 and lock 28 successfully bred and had two cygnets but unfortunately, these cygnets have now also fallen prey to the foxes. Life, eh?

Have a lovely week. Mine is shaping up ok, the weather is still glorious although there was about five pathetic minutes of rain yesterday evening. I am hoping for a down pour because I just won't have time today to water the garden. xx




17 comments:

  1. wonderful post thanks for your diary life of the swans, urban foxes are worse I think than rural foxes, I do think they need to be managed, I hope Mrs Swan improves and manages to raise a family next year.

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  2. I guess that's life but still sad. I'm reluctant to get any more chickens because there are so many foxes... Rural ones round here though.

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  3. I was hoping for a happier ending, but I suppose that is life. Beautiful photos.

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  5. Sad, but unfortunately a part of life. Just hate seeing an injured animal . Mac always tries to rescue them. Of course with a swan that wouldn't be possible. Hope her mate shows up.

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  6. I'm so glad to see Mrs. Swan seems okay. Poor thing. I really enjoyed seeing the progression of their lives through your photos. Hopefully her mate comes back soon. It's very sad to see an animal searching for its mate. I saw it happen with my road runners a few months ago. I hope your week is going well and that you do get that downpour. :)

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  7. That's a shame, it would have been lovely to have a happier ending where you were able to watch the cygnets hatch and grow.

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  8. Such is life I suppose, very sad all the same x

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  9. Life can be harsh out there can't it. I hope her mate returns and they have cygnets next year. I'm hoping for a downpour too. Fingers crossed. CJ xx

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  10. Poor Mrs Swan. It is all part of life as a wild animal, but it is still sad isn't it. I hope that she will still have a happy life.

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  11. Wow, Christina, what a sad, but interesting story. Nature is indeed cruel, but maybe it was a female fox who needed sustenance to feed her young. (Looking for the glass half full view.) We have a book called Sonia's Chickens by Phoebe Wahl and it has a great explanation for young children (and adults) about how a death in nature is sometimes a blessing for another animal. However, it is indeed sad that the female is injured and appears to be alone. It was great of you to call a wildlife authority - we have a great wildlife care organization in our area that will provide help to injured or orphaned animals that cannot care for themselves.

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  12. I bet your cycle ride has become quite poignant now. Poor Mrs Swan. Hopefully she will bounce back and her mate will return. Foxes do not exist in Jersey so that is one predator that doesn't cause problems. Our rat population is enormous on the other hand so I'm sure they cause problems. Hope the rest of your week goes well and you have a good downpour. We are due for a very wet weekend :( B x

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  13. What a sad tale and how beautifully you have documented it - in prose and photos. When the off road route is too muddy I cycle past a mill pond and a pair of swans always build their nest just by the cycle path and I'm now wondering if they do this deliberately (it is a very well-used path into town for walkers and cyclists) to be safer from foxes? The swans hiss and act defensively if you stop though so my strategy is to cycle past quickly. I hope your swan recovers from her injury. Haven't you been having the most glorious weather. Watering the garden in Glasgow must be a rare occurrence.

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  14. A beautiful and sad post. It is true that what is death for one animal is a meal for another but it is still hard to witness that. I am glad Mrs Swan is doing well.

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  15. Another reminder, I guess, that nature isn't always pink and fluffy. We've been keeping an eye on six ducklings at our local pond. Family life for The Ducks ended in tears last year but we're hoping for a more positive outcome this year.

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  16. Nature is so brutal sometimes, poor Mrs Swan, I am sending her positive well wishes and I am a bit mad at her mate, I hope he did not abandon her.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  17. It is amazing how involved we come to be with wildlife as soon as we take an interest. When I was running along the canal regularly (the bit near me) I saw a swan couple build a nest and start to rear babies. I remember after a particularly bad storm, running along with my heart in my mouth, waiting tomsee if they were ok (they were). Sadly my swan observations came to an end when I fractured my foot, and I have not been running since. X

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Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, I love to hear from you, I really do. I sometimes reply by email but I am not all that reliable... Christina xx