Sunday, June 03, 2007

And then there were four

We're extremely luck living next to a canal where I step straight out of my garden gate onto the tow path. Having a dog means that I also get to walk along the canal daily. One of the best things about this is that we really get to know the stretch of canal and local wildlife extremely well.

We're lucky in that this section of canal supports a pair of resident swans and each year anxiously watch where they nest and where, how many eggs hatch and how many cygnets make it to adulthood. Last year they built three nests, laid three lots of eggs but only hatched four eggs and only one cygnet survived.
This year they built one nest - right in the middle of the towpath but fortunately anyone walking the towpath was able to divert around it without disturbing the female too much. She sat on the nest for weeks and weeks and weeks and we thought that perhaps she was sitting on eggs that weren't going to hatch. However she did know best and low and behold hatched all 8 eggs
These were taken the day after they'd hatched and they're just so cute. Alas the next day we saw there were only 7 cygnets and could see some fluff in the reeds at the side of the canal and it looked as if something had dragged it out off the bank. Within the next 24 hours another three disappeared and there was no sign of them at all. However we're now down to four

They're now growing quickly but early in the morning when they're just waking up it makes me realise that they're still quite vulnerable from attack by mink or particularly foxes, quite often hear a vixen screeching at night. Do enjoy watching them grow and way they seem to mimic the parents preening their feathers and dunking themselves under the water.


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