Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Nairn Swans - 10 Years On

It's hard to believe that Popeye and Penny our resident Swans, first arrived on the river ten years ago. I had taken up digital photography just a few years before, and loved taking pictures of all the Swans that I saw on the River. It was a sunny 6th of May 2005 when I first saw Popeye and Penny below.
I deduced that they must have been newly paired up and were looking for a nesting territory, had they been a mature pair, they would have been nesting at that time of year, they must have been about 4 years old. A few weeks later they were chased out of the river by our previous river residents. The following year they returned and laid a couple of eggs in the long river grass near the harbour toilets, these were promptly swamped by the monthly high tide. 

Undeterred Penny moved up river to the island strip near the road bridge and again laid a few eggs. I recall one Monday morning I saw her away from the nest and she would not return to it, the previous night something had scared her and she abandoned the nest, it could have been an Otter, Mink or dog.
Again they were chased from the river by the previous pair, only to return in 2007 trying to nest in the harbour.

 Once again they were caught by the spring tides and the eggs swamped daily, they had still not come to terms with the tidal nature of the Estuary. Again they were expelled by the previous pair after a fatal fight that cost the lives of the previous pair's cygnets, and latterly the life of the previous Cob who hit a power line, it was truly a tragic year !

That was the last straw for me,  I was determined to have a proper nesting island, on the river so much desired by the Swans. 

The island was successfully built later that Summer and I hoped the previous Pen would find another mate.

Sadly she did not and moved away in October 2007, I last saw her the following January in the sea near the paddling pool.

A few weeks later in February 2008, Popeye and Penny returned to the river and immediately took to the new island to build a nest, I was overjoyed.

Their first brood was 4 cygnets, and since then they have successfully raised seven broods with as many as 9 at a time, totalling 56 fledged cygnets since 2008. 

Their remarkable persistence paid off, and they are now part of the Nairn community.

We could all learn a lot from Swans, qualities like courage, fidelity, and persistence.

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