Saturday, 7 September 2013

Swans -called in for a drink!

One day, on the Isle of Wight my friend Eileen and I visited the Newtown Reserve.  She is a volunteer there every Saturday afternoon.We were having lunch sitting at the boat house when 2 Mute swans toddled up the ramp and stopped at a puddle of fresh water right where are feet were.  They were not fazed by our presence at all.  Below are the shots I took as we watched them and at the end of this post there is a short video.   On the Internet I found facts about Swans and I will intersperse them through the photos and at the end, (if you wish) there is a quiz you can take!!


Swans are highly intelligent and remember who has been kind to them, or not.

 Swans respond in kind to gentle and considerate treatment. They don’t arbitrarily attack people, and will only bite if they feel threatened. They are more aggressive during the nesting season because they need to protect their nest, eggs and babies. Nesting season usually starts in March and lasts a few months until the cygnets can launch out on their own.
 

Mute swans have sharp vision and hearing.


 Although they don’t have a “call” they have a remarkable assortment of sounds to convey a broad range of emotions, from a gentle ‘bleat’ through a range of puppy-like barking notes, and a head-to-tail long snort sometimes combined with head-raising and feathers fluffed, to register delight.

 

They lay from 5 to 10 eggs that take from 35 to 42 days to hatch. The female does most of the egg incubation, but every now and then the male will replace her for a while so she can have a swim and a ‘bite to eat’ in the lagoon.


Cygnets are usually pale grey with grey legs that turn black as they grow, but there is a European sub-species or variant known as the Polish Mute, where the cygnets are white, with pink legs and feet. Our Mama Swan is the only one on Lost Lagoon. This colouring is due to a recessive gene.
 
 
 
A male swan is called a "cob"
 A female swan is called a "pen"
A baby swan is called a "cygnet"
A group of cygnets or eggs is called a "clutch"
A group of swans in the wild is called a “herd” while those in captivity are called a “fleet”

 
Although the North American Mute Swan population is now around 13,000, there are fewer than 1,000 in Canada, and these are divided between southern Ontario and coastal British Columbia.


Swans eat aquatic vegetation and insects, even tiny fish and tadpoles. Because they can plunge their long neck well below the water’s surface, they’re not in competition with ducks and smaller waterfowl for food. They actually help the smaller birds when parts of plants they’re eating float to the surface. 


A swan in a protected environment might live as long as 30 years.


 How to recognise a male from a female: Male and female look alike, but if you look carefully, you can tell one from the other:
1- Males are larger than females;
2- The knob at the base of the male's upper bill is larger than the female's knob. By the way, it’s this knob that distinguishes the mute swan from all others;
3- The neck of a male is thicker than the neck of a female.



  Pinioning: Following Environment Canada's regulations, the swans of Lost Lagoon have been “pinioned” meaning their wing tendons have been clipped. This is done because the Mute Swan was an introduced species, and not native to British Columbia, Canada. Pinioning ensures that they won’t become feral and intermix with native species. They cannot fly away but can raise themselves above the water surface for speedier movement, or to protect their cygnets.


Mute swans weigh from 14 – 30 pounds, are about 5 feet long and
can have a wingspan up to 8 feet.


A mute swan’s neck has 23 vertebrae, more than any other bird. 


A swan has some 25,000 feathers




Mates for life: Swans usually mate for life, remaining together through the year, but “divorces” have been known, and if one of a pair dies, the survivor usually seeks out a new mate, and the pair remain devoted.  

Swans begin to breed between 3 and 4 years of age. It’s a special treat to see swan mates “displaying” during the mating season, gracefully touching bill-to-bill and breast-to-breast until a perfect heart shape is formed, or gently intertwining their necks.


Now you probably knew most of the facts however now if you want to test yourself and see what you know about the Swan,

look up the link http://www.stanley-park-swans.com/quiz.shtml and  do a 30 question quiz. 

I didn’t get them all right however I had just had a glass of wine!!!  Now be honest and send me your results!!  No Prizes however it should be fun and you may even learn something.

You can access the short video at


If there is a black space below,click it and the video will appear. 




Thank you for visiting.
 
 I am linking my post with The Bird D' Port
 

54 comments:

  1. Hi Margaret!
    Swans are wonderful birds.
    I like to watch them.
    Twoej pictures delight. They are excellent and very beautiful.
    I wish you a nice weekend.
    Greetings.
    Lucia

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  2. HI Lucja Many thanks for your kind comments and I am glad yuo enjoyed the Swans.

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  3. What an amazing occurrence to have those swans come so close. They are so ungainly on the land, not at all what you expect to see since on the water they are so poised and graceful. And I never even thought about their need for fresh water if they live on brackish water. Thoroughly enjoyed this post.

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  4. HI Marcia Yes I could not get ver that thye are so close to us eating out lunch. Thanks for your comments.

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  5. so very beautiful with their flexible necks. i loved that foot photo!

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    1. HI Tex I knew you would like the 'foot' shot. thanks for comment.

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  6. You really did get some great photos of these birds. It's amazing that they came so close to you.

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    1. Hi Linda Yes wonderful so have them so close. Thanks for comments

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  7. Wonderful! I don't know much about Swans so this was a very useful post:) I've only seen the Tundra Swans. Pretty amazing birds, they are.

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    1. Hi Chris Well I am very pleased I put that into the post, I knew a lot of birders would know most but I was hoping it would help someone. Thanks for your comments, they are an encouragement to me.

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  8. Margaret, what a great post on the swans. I loved the photos, great closeups and video! Have a happy weekend.

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    1. Hi Eileen glad you liked the whole post and thanks for comments. Have a great weekend

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  9. That is so special. I enjoy birds in the wild and then when they choose to come close,that is the best.

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    1. HI Ruth I agree with yuo adn thanks for comment. Glad you enjoyed the post.

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  10. It is amazing how tame swans can get...It is a wonder they weren't sharing your lunch. Don't swans like caviar and champagne?
    I'll have a look at the quiz later.

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    1. Hi Adrian No, that was our lunch!!! I will be interested if you get full marks! Thanks for comments.

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  11. I love the regal look of swans. I didn't know about their memory:)

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  12. I love the way you have captured them drinking with their lovely necks!!! And the amazing FOOT shot!!! It does remind me a bit of an ancient pterodactyl!!

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    1. HI Ginny I am glad you enoyed the Swans as it was very special for me. Thanks for comments.

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  13. I have never been this close to a swan, at least not since I was a young girl in England. Thank you Margaret, your photos and video are so enjoyable. Wonderful information also.

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    1. HI Denise Yes it was very special. Glad you enjoyed the post and thanks for comments.

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  14. Hi Jesh Oh! You must have forgotten!!! I am glad you enojed these beautuful birds and thanks for comments

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  15. A beautiful day with the Mute Swans. You have a detailed exception.

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    1. HI Bob Glad you enjoyed them and thanks for comment.

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  16. Great swan post!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

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  17. Wow, Margaret! These are fantastic shots of this elegant bird.

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  18. HI Many thanks for your kind comments

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  19. Thank you for your video and all the information. Living on a pond, I get to watch geese and ducks and I have learned about them, identified individuals and love them. People don't realize that geese have many different sounds, but like ducks and I am sure swans, there is a lot conveyed with body movements. This is lovely..Michelle

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  20. Hi RW I am glad you got to see this post and appreciated the beautiful Swans. Many thanks for comments

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  21. Gorgeous things. Our swans have serrated beaks and when they demand food they are not gentle at all... (It is worth it though).

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  22. HI EC Yes these Swans have serrated beaks also. If you look carefully at some of the close ups you will see the serrations. Thanks for comments

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    1. HI NF Great adn I hope you enjooyed the post then adn thanks for comment.

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  24. you were able to get so close, amazing and beautiful swans. Loved the foot shot Margaret

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    1. HI Carole Glad yu enjoyed these beautiful Swans adn thanks for your comments

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  25. Some mute swans are very tame! They are such handsome birds!

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    1. Hi I would never trust a Swan. They are very strong and have been know to break a man's limb. Thanks for comment.

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  26. Thanks for these beautiful photos and the interesting information about swans.

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    1. Hi George Many thanks for you kind comments

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  27. The shot of that foot is amazing! And, wow, they are so big!! I think it is kind of sad about having their wing tendons clipped; I can only imagine how graceful they would be in flight. Loved all the interesting facts about them, Margaret. I may have to go check out that quiz. ;) blessings ~ tanna

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    1. HI Tanna Glad you liked the post. Yes try the quiz and let me know how you get on. Good way of learning I think. Thanks for comments.

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  28. Not sure if my other comment went or not... but these are amazing photos AND facts! blessings ~ tanna

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    1. HI Tanna I am glad you enjoyed photos and facts. Thanks for second comment.

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  29. Splendid looking birds! There are a few mute swans in Australia, but I not seen them.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. Hi Stewart No neither have I. Have a great weekend and thanks for comment

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  30. What beautiful images of the swans!! I see and photograph them all the time but have never been able to get this close!! Love that webbed foot and all the detail in that picture!!

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    1. Hi Debbie Yes someone on just see the whole bird and not just an interesting part of it. Thanks for commnet.

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  31. Wonderful shots of these magnificent birds! Have a lovely Sunday, Margaret!

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  32. HI Gunilla Same to you and thanks for comment.

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  33. well I wouldn't have gotten as many right if I hadn't read your post first ;-) such beautiful photos!

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  34. Wow, what great shots! I just love seeing them swimming in the lakes so graceful!

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  35. HI Lynn Thanks for comment. I would not have got them all right if I had not read the list either. Glad you liked the post and learnt something.

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  36. HI Judy Yes Swans are so graceful on water but a bit awkward on land. Thnaks for comment.

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