Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Beautiful Swans Grace Us with Their Presence

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Beautiful Swans Grace Us with Their Presence

Article excerpt

THERE is something rather magnificent about the mute swan on our lakes and rivers.

These are awesome birds striking fear into anyone whose sandwiches attract their interest. After all they are big enough to look after themselves so they don't mind wandering over and trying to steal your dinner.

On land they seem lumbering as they wander towards you but on the water they are impossibly graceful floating gently or preening themselves so they always look their best.

The mute swan is an unmistakeable white with a long, curved neck and a reddish-orange bill with a knobbly black bit on top. The young have darker feathers until they mature, but they too are beautiful birds and whoever thought they were 'ugly ducklings' needs their eyes examining.

They are fascinating birds to watch as they duck into the water and reeds looking for their waterweed dinner. They don't really need our human food so there is no point in throwing bread at them - it has no nutritional value.

One of the saddest sights I ever saw was a hunched up swan swimming around a lake in Lancashire. Its wings were arched backwards and it swam awkwardly compared to other swans. The reason why it was in this state? Lead poisoning from carelessly discarded fishing weights. It survived for a couple of years but was clearly not leading a happy life.

On a brighter note, mute swans generally mate for life.

So the couple of swans you see on your local pond will be the same pair you have seen over the years.

More good news is that the population locally has been on the increase since the early 90s. Recent surveys have shown that in winter the region has more than 4,000 birds which is nearly two per cent of the UK population.

This rise has continued despite persecution when they are nesting in urban areas. Some people do not appreciate our wildlife.

You will notice other large white swans on our lakes but their beaks are yellow. …

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