Posted by: mdmusingsie | September 26, 2012

Cygnet Update 6 – Learning to Fly

Yes, it’s swan time again. Note: you will get a break when they finally turn all white and I can’t tell them apart from the other adult swans (getting close as you can see in one of the photos below – underneath is all white with just a thin layer of gray on top). Then we will just have to wait until spring to see if there’s a new crop of cygnets.

Not only did I see the swan family down by the Wolfe Tone Bridge today, but I saw a sight I wasn’t certain existed – a fourth cygnet.

A number of times over the course of the late spring and summer I would see a lone cygnet with a single parent. Never quite sure whether this was actually part of the family of three cygnets just off for a little one on one time, or if indeed it was another small family. The only way to know for sure was to see them all at the same time. Today was that day.

On the positive side, there are four cygnets in the area, but on a potentially sadder note, the singlet was not accompanied by a parent and there were no other swans in the area. The lone creature swam up near the family and had a brief chat, but then drifted away on its own.

In the mean time, the father (I make this presumption based on human behavior) had jumped over the slight bump that is normally a small waterfall during low tide where the canal meets the River Corrib. Mom stayed with the children, going back and forth along the mini-falls edge, encouraging them to make the leap. This went on for a good 10-15 minutes.

Dad, likely wondering about the delay, came back and floated down over the bump to rejoin the family. He may have given a little pep talk to the young ones before demonstrating once more how to get over.

Back and forth they went several more times, with one cygnet swimming all the way to the right edge where the hump is lowest but the current strongest. It wasn’t to be, so back it floated to join its siblings.

After a few more unsuccessful attempts, two of the three finally got the hang of it, positioning their bodies against the rushing current, spreading their wings, flapping and finally hoisting themselves over the bump. They kept flying, feet dragging in the water, until they reached the bend in the canal. (I wish I would have taken a photo, but I was too mesmerized by the process.)

The third cygnet wasn’t so fortunate, and after trying again once or twice, decided to let the Corrib take it down to the Claddagh with Mother trailing behind. They would likely rest for a while before making another attempt. Or maybe they would wait a little longer until the tide erased the hump entirely and just swim on up the canal. In the mean time, Dad and the first two had headed off up the canal, leaving the others to make their way in their own time.

As for the orphan, I last saw it swimming near the mill. Hopefully some kindred spirit will take the poor, lonely soul under its wing (literally and figuratively) and teach it, too, to fly one day.

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