Swans and serenity are synonymous. They are generally thought to mate for life, and widely regarded as calm and peaceful birds. The truth can be rather more graphic, with fights to the death, incest and even infanticide. By those standards the family disputes I witnessed at Kincraig Lake on Sunday morning were quite tame.
Mute Swans are very territorial, and come early spring they want last year’s cygnets out of the way so they can nest again free from unwanted company. The cygnets at Kincraig Lake are often very reluctant to leave the family home, probably because there aren’t any other obvious water bodies nearby that are suitable.
This year the parents have forced one cygnet off the lake completely but it hasn’t flown off. In the picture above if you are hawk eyed you can just see it below the houses at the back behind the trees. I think this bird may also have had an incident with a car, but that could have been a fourth cygnet and now released elsewhere.
On Sunday the parents were doing their best to chase the remaining two cygnets off. It wasn’t going very well. They shunted them up and down between the two halves of the lake either side of the heronry island, but every time the youngsters were cajoled into flight they dropped down again just out of badgering distance and it all started all over again. There can only be one outcome in the end though.
Funnily enough I had a reminder on Facebook earlier that eight years ago today I rescued the bird below from a dispute between adult birds on the same lake which led to it being stuck in a bush.
This unfortunate bird (ringed SB6) and its mate (unringed) were being bossed about by another pair (J6T and U6N). I never submitted the details to the ringers at the time, but today I contacted Steve Christmas from North West Study today and he kindly indulged me. SB6 had been ringed the year before on site as an adult male. J6T and U6N had both been ringed at Stanley Park in the years before as young birds. It appears that I turned up on the day of a takeover bid. As J6T was re-ringed 4BCY at some point and I recall that bird at Bispham Marsh in subsequent years I think we know who won…