Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 15/02/2011

Swan Lake

Not quite the ballet, but serene and graceful none the less, the Mute Swan is a common sight on many waterways throughout the UK, with some 30,000 resident breeding pairs. Often thought of as a quintessentially English bird, after all punting along the leafy waters of the Thames, sipping Champagne wouldn’t be the same without a swan or two menacingly approaching for free morsels from the picnic, would it? (Would it? I haven’t the faintest, I’m making it up!).

The largest concentrations of the bird,however, are actually in Russia where in one area alone there are some 11,000 pairs (it’s the Volga Delta if you’re wondering). In total Russia is home to over 350,000 pairs of this imposing bird, a significant percentage of the estimated global levels of 500,000.

I’m always very wary of these birds, they can be very protective when they have young. This bird was rather perturbed by my presence, not that I was annoying it in any way. Situated on a fenced off board walk with my camera gear, the swan swam over to me so close that I couldn’t photograph it if I’d wanted to. I instead turned my attention to a black headed gull on the water at which point the swan started hissing at me (they’re called Mute Swans as they’re the least vocal of the swan family). Now I thought it was because I didn’t have any food but thinking about it, perhaps it was a vanity issue, the fact the swan had glided over for it’s close up only for me to turn my attentions on something else!

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