I’ve been watching a family of swans on the nature reserve, a mum and dad, and five babies, they seem to have chosen a spot on the road side of the lake to mark as their own and I walk past this spot on my way to and from work.
I noticed them within days of moving here and the babies, cygnets, were already grown to a size bigger than their neighbouring ducks. At first the parents were very vocal, they’d hiss if I passed by too closely to their little ones but more recently they just give a wary stare to any passers-by.
I watched the babies progress as they grew towards being as tall and as strong as their parents, I got excited at the appearance of their first white feathers, I would wonder, like the mother hen that I am, where they were and what they were up to if they weren’t “at home” when I passed.
One afternoon I saw them on their way back from a family outing. They caused quite a stir in the busy carpark as they waddled their way home.
More recently though, when I’ve spotted them one of the babies seemed to be missing, I spotted mum, dad, and four babies swimming quite happily across the other side of the lake and wondered what had happened to the fifth. Was he stuck somewhere, had he net with a road accident?
I noticed I was instinctively calling this baby he, I was putting human actions onto the family and just assuming the difficult baby was male, I then thought of more animal type relationships and, again thinking of our missing baby as male, wondered if he’d gotten big enough to be a threat to the dad and been chased off. I was just guessing so I did what I usually do if I don’t know something, I asked Mr Google.
Mr Google seems to think that as the baby swans get bigger it’s time to leave the protection of their parents and the white feathers signify this time. The males do grow faster than the females so my guess that the first to go would be a male seems to be a pretty good guess, but where was he? And was he OK?
It seems I was worrying about nothing, as a couple of days later I spotted him on the other end of the lake… Out playing with the big boys. ?
More from before: Semi-retirement by the seaside in “Weymouth“