Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Prospect Park's Swans

You may read all about our thirteenth Litter Mob at the Prospect Park Litter Mob blog. The weather was gorgeous. The condoms were few on the ground.

I was 20 minutes early for the Mob and sidetracked down to the Lullwater to see what I could see. And there I communed with some swans. Which may seem difficult, because they are mute swans. But I have my silent moments, too.  Perhaps my best ones are unvoiced.

Cygnus olor may be very beautiful, but mute swans are an invasive species whose environmental impact is being studied in New York State. Some local residents feed these swans and get very hot under the collar about the swans' internal politics.

I saw five swans, two white parents, and three giant, grey ex-cygnets, tailed by a host of mallard ducks. They diverted towards me when they saw me heading for the water's edge, perhaps expecting a snack. When they realized that the human held nothing but a camera they settled matter of factly in the shallows beside me and started to groom.  The whole family arched it collective neck and started to ruffle its chest feathers with orange and grey beaks.

I had last seen a swan family here in June, below. I'm not sure if they are the same birds.

I have never been this close to such big birds. I take swans for granted, as a distant piece of prettiness. Up close they felt powerful. I was surprised by how good it felt to be beside them. I expect these birds to be aggressive (I was chased by one in England when I was little), but they were very calm and tolerant. Quite beautiful.


  1. Six swans a swimming!

  2. Did you ever read The Trumpet of the Swan? Louis rivals Charlotte.

  3. Those are the most stunning pictures!
    The trees in their autumn/fall colour, the reflections in the water and those elegant birds, captured to perfection. Lovely.........

  4. I used to live three doors away from a park where a family of swans resided. My daughter and I would visit them when she was little and it wasn't uncommon for the swans to follow us home in a line - cob at the front, cygnets in the middle and pen bringing up the rear - and they would arrange themselves on the front lawn for a while. The cob would sometimes tap on the door asking for bread and we have a photo of the time he came inside. Quite fearless and very cheeky :)

  5. They look so lovely and graceful, it's hard to imagine there is any controversy over them. What a beautiful park. It's a shame the Litter Mob has so much work to do, but it seems very worthwhile.

  6. The neighborhood pond used to have a pair of mute swans. We so enjoyed watching them raise cygnets every spring, altho they did not seem to be particularly successful - turtles in that pond, too. One disappeared several years ago, and while the other stayed for many months, it too disappeared. Perhaps they really do mate for life. We still miss seeing them. Somehow Canada Geese just aren't the same.

    Lovely photos - lovely reminders. thanks.


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