Mute Swans on the River Wye

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A few days spent on the river Wye, close to Fownhope, gave a good opportunity to work with what appeared to be a resident and local population of mute swans. There were 25 birds in all and during the time I was there spent all of their time within an area of a couple of hundred yards.

Aggression

They split the time between grazing on the young shoots in the field and on the river itself. There were two males (they seemed a little stockier and with a stronger neck) who were particularly aggressive and would take the classic low in the water posture before launching an all out attack on others within the group.

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I’ve photographed such behaviour before but on that occasion against Canada geese.

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Waters of the Wild Swan – Jim Crumley

There’s a really fine book by Jim Crumley, Waters of the Wild Swan, and in it he describes much of what I experienced whilst photographing them over these few days and on the other occasions. I could spend weeks watching and recording their antics and never tire of the nuances of rivalries that play themselves out over the course of a season.  Jim Crumley puts into words the essence of what I’m trying to do with the images.

I put the glasses on him. He came head-on, which is the most impressive angle to observe a roused male swan, provided you are not the object of his attentions. His wings hoisted like two great mainsails, a small bow wave appeared at his breast, then his head went ominously low almost to his own waterline, the neck marvellously withdrawn as if it had never been. The young swans suddenly sensed his approach, and if they were slow to react, it could simply be that it was the first time they had ever encountered the phenomenon and mistook its purpose. From 200 yards, he charged, wings and feet thrashing the water, neck restored and stretched low and straight, and the young swans panicked.

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Filed under: Birds Eloquent Project, Diary EntriesTagged with: , , ,

5 Comments

  1. Hi Tim
    The passage from the book does sum up some of these excellent captures especially the first photo, reminds me of a wedding I photographed in Margam Park when the male Swan decided he did not want me or the Bride and Groom there and promptly sent us packing, if there had been someone with a video we would have ended up on you’ve been framed as he chased us.

    Regards

    Trev.

  2. Fantastic Trevor – I’d have loved to have seen that one, I can just see the scene with you all turning tail as the swan came at you. Perhaps he thought the bride was a swan!

    Good to hear from you again, hope you are keeping well.

  3. Nice light on the first one Tim, I spent a day up there looking for that two headed swan with no luck , you must have been lucky !!!!!

  4. Keep ’em comin!!

  5. Beautiful photos, Dianne! Isn’t it inntsertieg how many times the eye doesn’t see the details when we are behind the camera? I love the surprises when I download the photos usually anyway! These are just lovely swans look so regal! Happy day!


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