It’s been almost forty days since we first noticed a couple of swans building their nest on the river beside us. This river is usually quite deep, but for the last few months it has been quite shallow due to the dry spell of weather we’ve had. We thought it unusual that the swans would choose to build their nest in what is usually deep water.
A Perfect Pair
After a bit of research we learned that they can be quite particular about where they build their nest. Often they build a couple of trial nests before settling on a location. The male (cob) starts to build the nest and the female (pen) will inspect its location and structure. If she’s not entirely happy with it, the cob will find a new location and begin again.
They usually build close to shallow water where there’s plenty of natural food available. They need a location that’s safe from potential predators and human disturbance. This might explain why these two lovebirds built in the middle of the River Moy rather than along the bank.
The Nest in the Early Days
We’re not sure about predators, but there is a fair bit of human activity along the river. It’s a popular spot for walkers and joggers.
We also learned, that the swans can sense if the water level is rising. In order to protect their eggs from flooding, they’ll add more materials to the nest to raise it higher. We’re hoping their instincts told them that the water won’t rise too high before their eggs are hatched.
The Incubation Period
Today we’re worried. The water has risen and we’re afraid that the nest is in danger. We’re guessing the eggs are due to hatch in a couple of days. So many locals are watching these beautiful swans working so hard to protect their precious eggs. I almost cried this morning when I saw how high the water has risen.
Working Hard to Keep Their Eggs Safe
We’ve had a few hours of heavy rain this afternoon. I’ve been praying for it to stop! It has for now.
I wondered if there is a wildlife rescue group (or something) who could help the swans if their nest is in danger of flooding. As I searched the internet for help, I found some interesting information on a website called The Swan Sanctuary.
If the nest is vulnerable to natural events such as high tides & floodwater then it should be left alone so that the swans can learn from the experience – if a young couple lose a nest under these circumstances then they will learn not to build a nest so low down the next year. Sad as it is, they have to be allowed to learn from natural experiences which is one reason why it is illegal to interfere with a swan’s nest in any way.
How sad that these eggs may be lost with only a few days to go until they hatch, and there’s nothing we can do to help! Are they a young couple with little experience? I don’t know.
I’ll come back with an update by the end of the week. Fingers crossed you’ll see photos of a cob, a pen and their family of cygnets!
I’m afraid I’m updating sooner than I expected. It appears that the swans have abandoned their nest of eggs.
They’re in the area but the pen hasn’t been in the nest since late yesterday afternoon/early evening.
We’re all very disappointed and heartbroken for them. Unfortunately the nest wasn’t quite high enough to save it from the water.
It’s still there and the eggs are visible but they’ve been exposed to the cold and wet for over 24 hours now.
We all assume the cygnets haven’t survived. Would the pen abandon them otherwise? Who knows?
It’s such a shame!