The pair of Mute swans that reside in the pond at the Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve are always on the lookout for food. No pressure, but that stare!
When I spotted a pair of Mute swans and their six cygnets on an inlet of the River Ely on yesterday’s exercise walk, the old song ‘Way down upon the Swannee River’ immediately came to mind. The song has nothing to do with swans, of course (it’s about an African slave longing for ‘de old plantation’), and most of you are probably too young to even remember the tune – I think it was just the combination of swans and river that made it pop into my brain. But enough of the strange workings of my mind during lockdown…. Isn’t this little family just gorgeous?!
I had a super walk around Cardiff Bay yesterday …
A family of four Linnets were feeding on the Ely embankment. The seeds of Herb Robert seemed to be their food of choice.
This is one of six Turnstones foraging along the shoreline. I love their breeding plumage, which is now just beginning to change back to their less colourful winter plumage.
These House martin chicks were poking their heads out of a nest on a house at the end of Penarth Marina.
A close-up of one of a family of six immature Swans by the Barrage.
And a little further long, this juvenile Pied wagtail was slipping and sliding along the wires at the shoreline.
At Cardiff Bay wetlands, I followed a flock of tits and friends, and snapped this lovely bird. It might be a warbler or it might be a Chiffchaff – I couldn’t be sure as I didn’t hear its song and it wouldn’t show me its legs!
This young Moorhen was sticking close to the reeds while its parent was engaged in nest reconstruction, which seems just a little late in the year.
And back over the other side of the Bay, by Ferry Court, this is one of three immature Great crested grebes that were swimming around amongst the Coots, Tufted ducks and Swans.
Mute swans (Cygnus olor) sure do get stroppy at this time of year. I guess it’s all about establishing and protecting their relationships with their female companions but sometimes they do get a bit carried away. This angry bird must’ve chased the interloper almost 500 metres before it was satisfied the other bird was far enough away from its lady friend and returned to her.
The Black swan (Cygnus atratus) is not common in Britain, where white Mute swans predominate, but they can still be seen here. Like peacocks, they were introduced to join the collections of exotic birds adorning the parks and estates of the wealthy, and some have since escaped those boundaries.
Many people think of the Black swan as an Australian bird – it is, after all, both are the state symbol and the state emblem of Western Australia. However, scientists have discovered that the Black swan was present in New Zealand at the time of first human settlement, but had been hunted to extinction by the time Europeans first arrived in the early 1800s. In the 1860s, they were deliberately reintroduced from Australia and, judging by how quickly the local population grew, they may, at the same time, also have re-colonised New Zealand naturally – flown or been blown across the Tasman Sea from Australia.
The Black swan’s Latin name atratus means ‘to be clothed in black for mourning’. Perhaps that’s why some people believe it to be a harbinger of bad luck. Personally, I think the swan dressed all in black is a very stylish and elegant-looking bird (except, perhaps, when it’s doing its morning exercises 😉 ).
You know Hans Christian Andersen’s story of ‘The Ugly Duckling’, right? The unlovely little bird, who is bullied and abused by his farmyard companions because he doesn’t look like the other ducklings, grows up to become not just another duck but, instead, a very beautiful swan. It was one of my favourite stories as a child, perhaps because I was bullied at a young age for wearing spectacles – not common when I was a kid – and I hoped, in vain, for a similar transformation.
Ever since, I have had a special love of swans, and it has been wonderful as the summer has progressed to watch the little Mute Swan cygnets at Roath Park lake grow into their beauty. Here are just a few of the very many photos in my swan album.