Circle of life: Part II
My joy at discovering the Mute Swan cygnets a few days ago has now turned to sadness. Unfortunately when I caught up with the family again a few days ago it appears that two of the three cygnets have died.
The lone survivor
Like most baby birds cygnets are extremely vulnerable, particularly in the first few days and weeks of life and there are many dangers they must overcome if they are to reach adulthood. The cygnets will have been at risk from predators including crows and gulls, foxes and perhaps also red kites. They may also been too weak to keep up with the parents and subsequently unable to find food & shelter or may even have become tangled in discarded fishing nets?
The reasons for the loss of these cygnets is not obvious as they all appeared healthy, were feeding well and were well protected by the parents. Their fate will never be known, I just hope their sibling is more fortunate!
Below are a few tender moments captured with the remaining cygnet, I will keep you updated on this little one’s progress over coming weeks and months.
Tugging vegetation from a parent’s beak
Flapping it’s tiny wings
With the loss of all but one of their cygnets, the parents were understandably on high alert and did not hesitate to see me off with a warning hiss if they felt I got too close!
Having pondered on what may have happened to the other two young I finally found the answer, it would appear that they drowned. Here is a report from a local bird watcher:
“At low tide in the harbour at Aberystwyth the rocks across the Rheidol entrance to the harbour form a small weir. On June 4 the water was low but rough and there was a white waterfall in the centre of the weir. The swans were on the river side of the weir then very suddenly and fast the lead swan went through the white water in the middle of the weir followed by the other four. Three cygnets went into the water but only one came out.” (information sourced from ceredigionbirds33.blogspot.co.uk)
The location where the cygnets drowned
— All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography 2016 © http://www.greyfeatherphotography.com