The Swan Song

Nature is cruel and kind in equal measure

Swans Nesting

In May 2017 I watched a pair of swans first defend their territory against intrusion from "the neighbours" from upstream through to them setting up home on a wee island above Bluestone Ford on the Whiteadder. They made a happy, if tetchy, couple.

Bluestone Swans asleep

By June they were taking turns sitting on eggs sharing the island with a pair of mallards who probably reconned that having a couple of big old swans nearby might keep predators at bay. It was a dry year, the river had dropped from healthy fishing heights to summer low, a level that made the nesting site seem safe and attractive.

Willies Hole on the Whiteadder

Time went by, the heat of the day was relentless, the river dropped until the falls at Willies Hole were exposed and sprouting grass. The fishing was dire and as an angler I really wanted water but a spate at this crucial stage for the swans could be disasterous, roll on the drought for now! Things couldn't have been rosier for the swans, and taking turns the swans nursed their eggs with care. There were at least 3, possibly 4 eggs.

Swans with eggs

The big day came on the 4th of June when I arrived at the nest two wary and attentive parents were checking out the new brood of cygnets, all 5 of them.

The cygnets hatch in June Admiring the brood

Now why would Hans Christian Anderson call these little beauties "Ugly Ducklings" they are cute.

2 day later the skies opened the drought had ended with a vengence, Noahs Ark stuff. The Whiteadder raged to a 4 foot plus spate. Maybe if the rain had come a week later the cygnets would have been strong enough to handle the flood, but it wasn't to be and 3 cygnets were lost. A week later I found mother and father plus 1. 4 lost in a week after all that care and attention. But life goes on as they say and junior made it, bit of a show off: Is that an impression of a cormorant or is he/she just a copy cat (swan)?

The surviving cygnetparent and off spring


The swans are back this year but not on the island. This year neither the"neighbours" or our pair here seem to have nested, the "neighbours" having lost their entire clutch in the flood. I didn't catch a fish 'til July but here it is anyway, this is a fishing magazine after all.