Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 23/11/2011

Swan Lake (well, pond)

coscoroba swan, originally uploaded by

I’m still visualising a large duck pond in the back garden, after dismissing it several blogs ago, the photographic opportunities would be endless if I had total control of the environment and the birds themselves. One thing I couldn’t control, of course is the Sun (I have been trying but with the same luck as King Canute but with less soggy feet) especially as the back garden is north facing and as such doesn’t get the sun as much as I would like. Of course I could rig up my own artificial sun (less dense.. the sun, not me.. hang on… yes… me as well, I don’t want to be compared to something that is over 330,000 times more dense than the earth, even if it is a bright star), I’ve been looking at constant source lighting recently which can be combined together and sealed from the inclement weather using a good strong binding fabric to keep them all together… you could say I’d be using Duct Tape…. I said.. you could say I’d be using DUCT tape.. DUCT anyone? oh well, suit yourself (be warned, I AM here all week!).

Today’s image is of the Coscoroba Swan I had planned to post a couple of days back but when examining the images I was planning to upload thought that they were not sharp enough, hence the delay. They’re an odd looking bird, neither one thing or the other… with the body of a swan but with the neck and head more reminiscent of a goose, we’re back with an creature made out of left overs. They hail from the south of South America… Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Falkland Islands, etc. and due to a relatively undisturbed habitat aren’t currently threatened, with an estimated 10,000 pairs in the wild. This doesn’t sound like a prolific species to me, but taking into account their limited distribution I guess it’s not too bad. The Mute Swan, on the other hand, which has a much greater distribution in more diverse regions is much more prevalent, with an estimated 500,000 breeding pairs. That’s a lot of swans, especially if you have a bag of bread with you as you’re counting them.

Mute Swans are so called as they do not sing (though other swans aren’t particularly tuneful either) but grunt, hiss and snort which is odd as we use the phrase “swan song”. This term isn’t used in a musical connotations but refers to last ditch efforts before death or retirement and refers to the legend that whilst a swan doesn’t ever sing, it will during the last moments of it’s life and those who manage to hear it’s song are struck by it’s beauty. Apparently. The phrase actually derives from the early Greeks (what have they ever done for us? Running inflation and global financial instability?), in fact Socrates own Swan Song was self reverential – “although swans sing in early life, they do not do so as beautifully as before they die”. It’s all a bit GEEK to me!


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