Tuesday 1 May 2018

Black Swans

Repeat week This week I republish four golden oldies

We have known for some time that a local lake is home to a pair of black swans. Last month we made our first effort to see them. It was well worth the wait. They are magnificent birds. 

Although the lake is quite near the road it was totally deserted. The birds elegantly sailed towards us across a sixty meter stretch of water. They did not quite complete their welcome when they discerned we had not brought any food. And nor should we feed them when a healthy diet for them is aquatic plants and apparently at times of flood, grass and other such vegetation. Their elegant long necks are used to scoop out weeds from deep water  and yet at other times they can filter feed on surface greenery.

naughty naughty

Thank you Cathi for most of today’s pictures.

When you try to find information on the net about black swans you find multiple references to pubs and commercial enterprises but little about real black swans - entries are as rare as black swans! This phrase has entered the language to describe unexpected events. It has grown into ‘black swan theory’ which describes surprising but often very significant anomalies in scientific research, unanticipated consequences of economic and government policy and indeed inconvenient data that the authorities choose to ignore. Ignominy descends on scientists discovered hiding black swans. 

Black swans have proportionately longer necks than white swans

They frequently live in monogamous pairs
Black swans are not native to the UK. They are an antipodean bird and are relatively abundant in Australia. They were hunted to extinction in New Zealand but have been reintroduced. I believe that because some are thought to have flown there, they regard them as native! 

Sometimes when traveling in deep water their young hitch a ride. I wonder if we might say this is their cigneture! 

The males are called cobs and the ladies are pens. Sometimes pairs consist of two cobs and sometimes two pens! 
Our own UK black swans are usually domesticated and no doubt our local ones have, as opportunistic migrators, had their wings clipped. There are instances of UK black swans escaping and breeding in the wild. Let’s hope our paranoia about immigrants does not drive them away.

They utter a musical, bugle-like cry 
Thank you Cathi for this video


  1. We get black swans at RSPB Fairburn Ings, A friend once saw them and was confused. She commented that the other day she saw some birds that looked like swans but were black and asked what they were, My answer rather baffled her.

    The other breeds of swans mate for life too.

    1. I presume your answer was 'black swans' ( I am a bit slow)

  2. The photos are great. Fairburn Ings isn't too far so worth a trip.

  3. Replies
    1. Yes, thank you for taking them Cathi. But she was naughty feeding them


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