Sunday, January 01, 2012

Swanning around….

There’s a resident pair of swans in Market Drayton, the ones that came for breakfast the other day. They have 5 cygnets, almost fully grown, now. In fact they’ve been doing “circuits and bumps” down the straight section of canal opposite the pontoon moorings.
Unfortunately, as soon as they can fly, the parents evict the youngsters from their “patch”, and 2 were shifted yesterday, with the cob chasing them off further up the canal. To make matters worse a pair of juveniles have appeared today, obviously looking for somewhere they can call home. The residents were having none of it; no-one one was sharing their bit of canal.

The first I knew about the commotion was a bump and scrabble on the back deck, going out to look I saw one of the local young birds  on the towpath, having used our counter to get out of the water. The dad was cruising up and down, feathers fluffed in a threat display, so it looks like one of the evicted cygnets had tried to return  home.

He waddled off up the towpath, then all hell broke loose down near the bridge. The two interlopers had turned up and were being chased off by the local adults.SAM_0006

One of the newcomers took the hint and slung his hook, the other didn’t get the chance.
Mobbed by both of the locals, they proceeded to try to drown him, holding his head under the water and standing on his back.SAM_0013

Even when he tried to escape onto the bank there was no reprieve.SAM_0017

The three remaining local juveniles joined in as well…SAM_0018

But he did manage to get away and climbed out onto the towpath behind Seyella. I had to shoo the other birds away, they were all for carrying on the persecution onshore.

Bedraggled and exhausted, he took a few minutes to get his breath back before he too set off up the towpath away from the area.SAM_0020

He still had enough energy to threaten Meg, though. She pointedly ignored him…SAM_0021

And they look so sweet don’t they, serenely cruising along the waterways. Actually, they are pretty nasty, attacking boats large and small, drowning ducklings that have the misfortune to be competing with cygnets for food, and beating up towpath users if they stray too near a nest site.

One of the local dog walkers told me that this pair had killed one of their own offspring last year because it wouldn’t leave the nest site.

Today started bright enough, but it became showery by mid morning. George and Carol were having visitors so reversed back to moor near Bridge 63. With the wet weather the towpath alongside us here is rapidly turning into a morass. So we’ll move both the remaining boats back to join them tomorrow.

Locks 0, Miles 0


Carol said...

brilliant photo's of the swans Geoff - well done!

Jill and Graham said...

Talk about nature raw in tooth and claw!!!!! xxx

Jaqueline Biggs said...

Hi Mags,
Though we've yet to meet I've enjoyed your blog for several years.

You are right about the swans looking so sweet and lovely; then they open their mouths and sound like something out of the Alien movies. Thanks for the brilliant photos. Happy new year!
Jaqueline Biggs
NB Valerie

Geoff and Mags said...

Hi Jaqueline
Thanks for the comment. It's true, all this time and we've never come across each other on the water. It's bound to happen at some point, we'll look forward to it.

Geoff and Mags said...

Hi, Jill and Graham
Yes, they don't pull any punches, do they. Darwinian at it's most basic...